Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Scoop on Research by DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills
Writing romantic suspense is my passion. I stay awake at night planning a story in which a strong and vibrant heroine attempts the impossible, the forbidden, or the dangerous for the good of others. She meets a hero who compliments her strengths and challenges her weaknesses. Together they take the writer and the reader on an adventure. 

However, research can be difficult, especially if I’m not familiar with the character’s profession and its rules of conduct. I educate myself through online research and the library until I have accumulated enough knowledge to contact a real person who has this profession. My goal is to pose questions during the interview that are realistic for the character in my book. Sometimes I must preface my inquiry with, “I need to know if this situation could happen, not if it has.” The answer allows me freedom to create plot twists and circumstances that add tension and conflict to my story while staying true to the character’s profession. 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Friends chatting . . . or FBI special agents
tailing a bad guy


Some professions are easier to research than others. The FBI and Border Patrol want public support, and they were not only willing to help me write a credible book but patient in responding to questions. Both agencies allowed me to tour their facilities. 


The FBI offers solutions for my questions, and I’m grateful for their assistance.


Other professions involved in national security are required to keep their techniques secret. Makes sense to me. If we are to be protected from those who seek us harm, then methods must be hidden from the public. The CIA and Secret Service are two agencies that can’t reveal how we are to be kept safe. The writer is on her own to figure out how crimes are prevented and stopped. Sometimes a person in one of these fields will tell me what I’ve written is wrong. On those occasions, I become more creative in addressing a situation in my story.


The romance portion of romantic suspense has to be accurate. Some agencies frown on their employees fraternizing within their ranks. The reasons are sound. Think about a man or woman in a high-risk situation in which their priorities might be another person instead of his/her responsibilities. For a man and woman who are attracted to each other, employer guidelines might mean hiding their relationship. More juicy conflict.


Writing romantic suspense is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces have to fit in a way that is credible and in character. Every scene of the novel has to add conflict while the plot adds layers to the story problem. I encourage writers who are fascinated by romantic suspense to conduct realistic research. Book sales will grow!


How do you research your stories? We want to hear!


About the Author
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion for helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com



Deadly Encounter
by DiAnn Mills
Deadly Encounter
Airport Ranger volunteer Stacy Broussard expected a peaceful Saturday morning ride around the perimeter of Houston’s airport. What she encounters instead are a brutal homicide and a baffling mystery. Next to the body is an injured dog, the dead man’s motorcycle, and a drone armed with a laser capable of taking down a 747.

Though FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc sees a clear-cut case of terrorism, his past has taught him to be suspicious of everyone, even witnesses. Even bleeding-heart veterinarians like Stacy. But when her gruesome discovery is only the first in a string of incidences that throw her life into a tailspin, Alex begins to wonder if Stacy was targeted. As a health emergency endangers Stacy’s community, and the task force pulls in leads from all directions, Alex and Stacy must work together to prevent another deadly encounter.


9 comments:

  1. Thank you so much, DiAnn! It's always great to have you visit with us. I love the way you phrased those questions so it gets more than a yes-or-no answer.

    How cool to tour the FBI facilities! I bet you saw lots of great ideas there, especially when you got to talk one-on-one with an agent.

    I took a class from our local sheriff's department where we watched a SWAT training scenario and even got to ride-along with the community task force. I was very blessed to be able to do that.

    Don't you just love research?

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    1. I love research! And the key to an outstanding novel is to always do more than is needed. That way, the extra info is in the character's mind, and it reflects in their internal dialogue and actions. Thanks!

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  2. Though I write historical romance, romantic suspense is one of my favorite genres, DiAnn, and I enjoyed reading your advice. I'm wondering how you went about making your connections within the law enforcement agencies. Did you use online groups to find people or just call the offices? Do you use the same people for different books?

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    1. Hi Sandra, the truth is I picked up the phone and asked for the media coordinator. No matter what law enforcement agency or large business, someone's job is to provide the public with information. Once I learned that, I was sailing! For the FBI books, I used my friend who's the media coordinator here in Houston. But she often referred me to other special agents who were specialists in what I was researching.

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  3. YOU TOURED THE FBI?!?!?!? HOW COOL IS THAT!!! i lovelovelove doing my research, down to the minutest detail! always enjoy your posts, DiAnn, and this one is no exception!

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    1. Hi Robin, Both FBI in DC and Quantico were amazing. I walked around with my note pad and mouth agape!

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  4. I'm currently writing historical romance, but I've enjoyed all the books I've read by you, regardless of the genre. It's fascinating to hear about your experiences while researching material for your novels. I never thought the FBI would be that open to talking to writers. The assumption is that they're too busy to bother. Very cool that they're willing to give your their time. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Dawn, Law enforcement need community support, which means answering questions and being open - as much as possible.

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  5. DiAnn - I love to read and write romantic suspense. Your books are wonderful and your research certainly pays off.

    Thanks for the examples on how to pose questions. As for the two gals on the park bench - they're tailing someone. 😉

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