NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments! and often have guest bloggers.

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Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Marcelle Dube . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Monday, June 5, 2017

Research Dividends

When I first conceived of my Coast Guard series (Gulf Coast Rescue) I didn’t know enough about the different assets like small boats, cutters, fixed and rotary wing aircraft to determine how they might play into my story world. The more I researched actual missions and the kinds of rescues each asset was used for and why, I began narrowing my focus to aircrews. Eventually I decided to concentrate on the MH-60T recovery medium-range helicopter, or Jayhawk.


However, during my discovery phase, and later as I developed my heroine for Jayhawk Down, I researched the Coast Guard Academy and learned about the Barque Eagle, the only active duty square rigger tall ship in use today. Since 1946, she has been used to train cadets and officer candidates what sailing is all about. As a cadet in the academy, my heroine would have spent some time on the Eagle.

When I heard the Eagle was going to visit Port Canaveral, Florida at the end of May first of June, I knew I had to visit the ship known as the perfect lady. Will I be able to apply what I learned in my next book or two? I have no idea. I have discovered not to turn down opportunities to learn more about the important historical elements that make up the unique branch that protects our coasts and inland waters while conducting more civilian rescues than any single organization.

First, the Eagle is a beautiful ship. Under full sail, she can attain speeds up to 17 knots in the open ocean. There are over 22,000 square feet of sail, five miles of rigging, and over 200 lines. Looking up at the top of the masts (147-foot-tall), knowing those young cadets must climb up there to do their jobs, gives you a real appreciation of what the young men and women are required to do as part of their training. Hmm, good thing my character didn’t have a fear of heights!

It was fun to read the information placards, along with historical facts about sailing ships of all ages and designs.
I’ve visited many ships while attending RWA national conferences and it always gets me thinking about resurrecting one of my historical novels. One of these days I just might do that—or maybe a time traveling Coastie? Now that could present some interesting challenges!

Have any of your research discoveries led to unplanned story dividends? Do you fancy going in a different direction when you learn a new or arcane fact you hadn't known before?

4 comments:

Anne Marie Becker said...

Thank you for this fascinating look at a world I know nothing about. ;) When I created my Mindhunters series, it was based on a documentary I saw on the Vidocq Society, which is a group of professionals who meet in Philadelphia and discuss cold cases. They're named after who is believed to be the first private investigator (Vidocq) and it led to some interesting research.

Rita said...

Always. Writing using technology is a mindblower. Basically anything you dream is possible. Just working with the technology in new cars can keep me going for days.

jean harrington said...

Well, Sharon, my most memorable ship experience (other than cruises with wine, I mean)occurred one Sunday afternoon in New Bedford, Massachusetts, at the old whaling museum. We went aboard a replica of a whaler, and I kept banging my head on stuff and thinking, boy, people sure were small way back 'then.' Come to find out, the replica had been built on a 1/3 scale of the original. Embarrassing.

Sandy Parks said...

An interesting topic and blog. I'm sorry I missed seeing the ship when it was here. I've sailed on a four-masted sailing ship that has since sunk in a hurricane (entire crew lost). The sail was a wonderful experience rocking and rolling in the berth at night. Sure glad I'm not one to get sea sick. Seeing the sails raised was inspirational. I would love to do a story about such a ship someday, or at least put a character on a ship. Funny comment, Jean. I'd probably have wondered the same thing.

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