Monday, March 25, 2013

Immersion by Peter Leavell

Peter Leavell
Hey writers, what was the most interesting thing you've done as part of research for a book? I know a friend who went skydiving. She has pictures to prove it. How about you? Peter Leavell is back to conclude his visits this month by discussing the topic of research. Enjoy! ~ Annette

Immersion or sprinkle? My goodness, a touchy subject. And religious, as well.

But when it comes to researching your subject, you must immerse.

In fact, let’s forget immersion. Hold yourself under water until the congregation is sure someone is about to drown—and the elders or deacons come running to save a life.

Because if a writer wants to add literary value to the book, it’s going to take some research. Research adds depth.

An Example

Ernest Hemingway studied his work by living it. His book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, is about an event called the Spanish Civil War. How well did he research his subject? Hemingway was in the Spanish Civil War. Hard to get much closer to your subject.

So, if you’re writing a modern romance that contains a character whose interactions are insane, unreal, and unhealthy, it’s a wonderful excuse to enjoy a relationship you only read about. You have just cause. But, there may be a better way.

A Better Way

Instead of destroying your life, hit the books.

There’s nothing more amazing than learning about the depths of depravity through someone else’s life. That way you don’t have to destroy your own. Biographies are perfect for this. A great memoire not only talks about the personal problems of a real character, it also gives insight on the people around them. Analyze as you read. Why did the person make decisions the way they did? Did they want to fit in with the culture? Go against it? Create it?

My wife claims she sleeps next to a different character every night—John Adams, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Leonardo de Vinci, and the list goes on. I go as far as ordering a Roman sword to get the feel for the weapon, or firing a Civil War cannon, just to feel what it was like. It adds depth. And depth makes your work more worthy of literary value.

Do your research. Don’t just sprinkle, immerse yourself in it. You’ll be happy that you did.

Thanks for visiting, Peter!


Gideon's Call
Author Peter Leavell forges an unprecedented tale of tragedy and triumph amid the backdrop of the Civil War through the story of Tad, a very clever slave boy who comes of age as America’s war reaches the sea islands of South Carolina. Tad’s desire to better himself is obstructed by the color of his skin, until Northern soldiers force the evacuation of white plantation owners, setting 10,000 slaves free in a single day. These circumstances seem like a dream, except that the newly freed slaves have no money, no education, and little hope for the future—unless someone rises up to lead them. Based on true events, Gideon’s Callis the dramatic tale of a young man who battles the shame of his past and faces the horrors of war and unimaginable prejudice to become the deliverer of thousands of freed slaves.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at and on his Facebook page:

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  1. Peter, I can only imagine how your wife feels going to bed. I've never seen my hubby without his moustache. I'm afraid that if he ever shaves, it'll freak me out to sleep with him. lol.

    I LOVE research! Especially when it involves a field trip!

    Thanks for sharing this month, Peter. Great series!

  2. Great ideas, Peter. I've taken a Citizens Academy course to learn about police investigation. It was a lot of fun, too. :)

    Thanks for the posts, Peter!

  3. Howdy, Peter. I stayed at a ranch in Bandera TX and took a city-slicker wagon train around the Tetons as research. And fun, too, of course. And I agree with Dora...hubs has always had a little caterpillar on his upper lip. (except in high school where we met but were NOT sweethearts LOL.)

  4. That's funny, Tanya. I've thought about growing a mustache, but the Tom Selleck kind. I don't think my wife would like that. She's used to me clean shaven.

    Dora, keep up the great work with your research. Field trips are the best, ever!

    That's interesting, Angie, about a Citizens Academy. I haven't heard of it before. Very cool!

  5. Thanks, Peter! Great ideas. I enjoy research, but sometimes just reading the history books isn't enough. I love being able to get my hands dirty while learning. We took the kids to a Civil War reenactment late last year. It was a great experience, plus while we were there I met an interesting character for my book. I also enjoy reading your writing, Peter. Have a great day!


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