So I did this thing, where I wrote about a young woman who knows martial arts and buys a gun and takes on a human trafficking ring run by a bunch of Russians. There were a few issues when I started. I knew nothing about martial arts, the Russian mafia or Eastern European prostitutes. I did know a little about guns, so that was a good thing. But as for the rest, I was a blank slate.
Ignorance is bliss, so I jumped in feet first and started researching. I won’t bore you by telling you how to search the internet for information. Presumably you can figure that out. If not, you’re probably not reading this post anyway.
I did the usual author research, which means I read tons of articles and news stories and looked at maps and badgered friends until they had told me every last thing they knew about a topic. I watched hours of mixed martial arts events on YouTube and bought a bunch of books on Muy Thai and Brazilian jiujitsu. The only thing I wasn’t prepared to do was show up at a dojo and get my ass kicked for the sake of authenticity. I have to revert to childhood memories of my brother catching me in one of his patented headlocks for details like how it feels to have your ears mangled. Ears get hot when they’re twisted and rubbed. Did you know that?
Of course, doing the research is the easy part. The difficult thing is taking a bunch of facts and using them to create a believable character who does believable things. It’s not enough to drily recite the moves my heroine will make to escape from a man who intends to rape her. We’ve got to add in the dripping sweat, the heat rising off his body, the smell of his breath. We’ve got to talk about the way adrenaline floods her body and the rising panic she feels. We’ve got to layer on the detail until the reader feels that what the character is feeling is entirely natural, and they would feel the same way, too.
Info dumps are bad and readers don’t like them, so we have to figure out a way to provide background on, for example, human trafficking, without making the novel read like a report for a government agency. We’ll let a young woman tell the story of how she was lured away from her home in the Ukraine. We’ll let her describe the appalling living conditions and the punishments. We’ll let our heroine feel outrage, and we can identify with her because we feel it, too.
In short, doing the research and knowing a lot of facts about the topic you’re writing about isn’t enough. A writer has to move beyond the facts and create a character that readers like and care about. You’ve got to be factually accurate (Neen shoots the Glock 17) but you have to explain to the reader why Neen chooses to pull the trigger. I hope I’ve succeeded in sharing information with the reader, and creating a plausible character.
Thanks for having me. I hope you enjoy the book, and that you’ll check out the first Neen Ford short story, Dead Wasps, available at Amazon, B & N and Smashwords. And anyone who cares to talk to me can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/scottneenford).
Title: Battle Not With Monsters
Series: A Neen Ford Thriller #1
Author: Overton Scott
Pub Date: March 8th 2014
Publisher: Good Heart Press
Purchase Links: Amazon
Neen Ford is a loner, drifting from town to town, working as a security guard and teaching martial arts. One hot night in Dallas, she witnesses the brutal murder of a Ukranian prostitute and becomes the killer’s next target. Neen’s never backed down from a fight, but she’s never tangled with a human trafficking ring before. Until now.
Naïve young women are being trafficked into the United States by Russian criminals. Someone needs to help them. The police are trying, but they’re not moving fast enough for Neen, who is now being stalked by a man who enjoys inflicting pain.
How far will Neen go to save herself? How far, to save three young women from a life of fear and despair? And what price will she pay for battling the monster? There’s a thin line between hero and vigilante – will she cross it?
2x Signed copies of Battle Not With Monsters (INTL)
Overton Scott is the pseudonym of a national bestselling author. Overton is interested in a lot of themes covered in the Neen Ford stories: martial arts, the warrior ethos, personal responsibility, and the concept of justice. Like Neen, Overton doesn’t think that the guilty should escape punishment on this earth. Unlike Neen, Overton prefers to write stories rather than take the law into his own hands. It’s just as morally satisfying, but less dangerous.
As you are reading this, Overton should be working on the next Neen Ford adventure. But he’s probably at the gym, shooting or wasting time looking at funny pictures on the internet. You can contact him at email@example.com, if you’d like to discuss any aspect of the Neen Ford stories.
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