Today I'm handing the reins of Supernatural Snark over to author Resa Nelson who's going to give us an inside look into how she researches material for her Dragonslayer fantasy series. She's also offering up a giveaway of books one and two, so be sure and check the bottom of the post for details. Thanks so much for being here today Resa!
RESEARCH ON THE FLY
When writing my 4-book Dragonslayer series, I did most of my research before I wrote Book 1 (The Dragonslayer's Sword) or while I was writing it. All of the research I had done – and which I've described during my blog tour so far – gave me a wealth of information that I kept drawing upon while writing Books 2 and 3. It wasn't until deep in Book 3 that I felt the need to delve into research again. Today I'm writing about how doing plenty of research in advance makes it easier to do research on the fly when you get into the depths of a series of books.
The earliest stages of my research took place about 11 years ago. What is now a 4-book series began as one short story that was published in a magazine. I never had any intent of writing more Dragonslayer stories, much less a novel, much less an entire series! Fortunately, all of my readers are smarter than I am. There was such a strong response from readers to that one little Dragonslayer short story that I decided to write a second short story set in the same world with the same characters, and it was published in the same magazine, Science Fiction Age. In addition to reader response, both short stories were nominated for the Nebula Award. But my policy is this: I won't write a novel unless I come up with an idea that excites me so much that I can't stop thinking about it. I won't write a novel unless I have an idea that I love with my whole heart. Writing a novel that I'm not wildly excited about would be a waste of my time, my publisher's time, and most importantly my readers’ time.
So it took about 8 years or so for me to come up with an idea I loved for the first Dragonslayer novel (The Dragonslayer’s Sword). My theory about the Dragonslayer world is that it takes place in a world parallel to ours during a medieval-type era. I've always loved Viking culture, so I decided to model my world on the beginning of the Viking era. That's when my research began in earnest. Luckily, because I've been a lifelong fans of Vikings, I already had a big shelf full of books. I kept collecting more books as I sank into research mode.
Fast forward several years to a point where Book 1 had not only been published but also nominated for the Nebula Award and named a Finalist for the EPPIE Award, which thrilled me. I had decided to wait to see how people responded to Book 1 and had written a standalone novel (Our Lady of the Absolute, a fantasy/mystery/thriller inspired by ancient Egypt but set in our modern day). After all, if readers didn't like Book 1, it would be foolish to keep writing the series – my time would be better spent writing other books. But a combination of award nominations and very positive (and often enthusiastic) reader response convinced me to write the entire series.
Now fast forward again. Book 1 is in print, Book 2 (The Iron Maiden) has been accepted for publication, and I'm getting close to writing the end of Book 3 (which is currently scheduled for publication in 2012). All of a sudden, my main character Astrid encounters a group of characters who become critical to her journey. The problem is that I didn't know they were going to show up. Now what was I going to do?
The solution turned out to be a lot easier than I would have guessed. I went to the bookcase in my living room and started sorting through the books about women in the Viking age that I'd bought years ago. I sat down and flipped through them. One book especially appealed to me and seemed to be a good match with what was happening in Book 3 at that time. I skimmed through some sections of my research book and read other sections very carefully. These new characters that had showed up in Book 3 began to take shape and form in my head.
It took maybe an afternoon or two to do the research for that particular part of Book 3. I didn't have to go to the library or request interlibrary loan, which I'd spent many months doing when I first started the series. I didn't have to do an Internet search. I had everything I needed at my fingertips because I'd already done a lot of research and had gathered a collection of books that genuinely interest me. And that allowed me to do research on the fly in a very quick and efficient way when something unexpected popped up in my own novel that I wanted to understand and develop before committing words to paper. For me, that’s a great way to do research on the fly.
Resa is generously offering up signed paperback copies of both The Dragonslayer's Sword and The Iron Maiden to those people following the promotional tour. To enter, just send an email to
ResaBonusGifts@aol.com (email addresses will be used only for giveaway purposes) with "Dragonslayer Giveaway" as the subject. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL and will run through the end of the tour on February 14th. For those who want to double their chances of winning, there is also a Goodreads giveaway (which can be found HERE) for The Dragonslayer's Sword, though this particular giveaway it is open to US residents only.
If you'd like to try a sample of the series, you can download a free "mini" ebook (in PDF form) titled Dragonslayer Stories HERE.
Additional information, including other stops on the promotional tour, can be found on these sites:
Iron Maiden Trailer
THE DRAGONSLAYER'S SWORD
For Astrid, a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, the emergence of a strange gemstone from her body sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy her life. Her happiness is shattered when her lover-the dragonslayer-disappears without a trace, and the life that she knows and loves implodes without warning.
Astrid lives in a world of shapeshifters whose thoughts have the power to change not only themselves but others. Everything Astrid knows to be true is called into question when she learns the truth about her past and the mysterious family from which she was separated as a child.
Reality turns inside out as Astrid gradually learns the truth about the people she loves as well as those she disdains. With the fate of dragons, ghosts, and slaves in foreign lands resting on her shoulders, Astrid faces the challenge of deciding who she is and how she will stand up inside her own skin. Will she withdraw and hide from the world that has disappointed her so much...or will she rise to lead others to freedom and peace?