I have a special guest today. She is Jami Gray and is another author at Black Opal Books. She’s got a great post for us today- including some cool research she did for her books. Enjoy!
RESEARCH HAS SHOWN WRITERS NEED RESEARCH…
“Research is formalized curiosity.” Zora Neele Hurston, author of Their Eyes Were Watching
One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a writer is research. Sounds strange? Only if you’re thinking research has to be dry and boring, equating it with college or high school papers. For me, I’m all about the unusual and scary, it’s why I write Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romantic Suspense. I’m constantly asking, “what if?”
When I first sat down to write my Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, my research focused on mythology, namely European mythology. Fascinating cast of characters over yonder. You think our modern day soap operas get convoluted, try following family lines of the Greek, Romans, or Irish. Not to mention the Nordic folks who make genealogy a hot mess. Yet it’s a great place to start when you’re building a modern day world filled with the fantastical.
I like options, so much so I made sure my world had a place for everyone—witches, wizards, demons, shifters, Fey—if you had magic, I would make a place for you. Creating believable worlds for readers requires you to understand where our stories come from and why.
SHADOW’S MOON is the third book in my series and focuses on the wolf shifters of the Northwest. When I delved into the psychological reasons behind the stories of werewolves, I found how historical man tried to explain away more “primal” instincts by giving his more frightening desires a physical presence—a slathering, maddened predator who hunts by the light of the moon.
I took this little gem and added it to my character motivation for my hero, Warrick Vidis, who just happens to be the top dog of the Northwest. When you’re able to meld the whys into a what if, you can create a character with depths to ponder. In Warrick’s case, as the Alpha, having a mate equaled giving your enemies an opening to take you down, so on a primal level, the equation became: Mate=Weakness, Weakness=Dead.
And here is where the fun of research comes in. My shifters have two natures—instinct (wolf) and intellect (human). Having both aspects co-exist inside one skin presents unique sets of challenges, which in turn add to the realism of your story. Now I have characters who aren’t just challenged by their environment and the things happening around them, now they’re faced with their own natures. So if you’re having a really bad day, chances are extremely high you’re going to go all tooth and fang on someone with very little provocation.
My research also went into how wolf packs functioned, how wolves fought and lived. Do you know how hard it is to watch a real live wolf fight on a computer screen in the middle of a coffee shop? There were a few times I had to make sure no one else could see my screen.
These videos were hard for me to watch, I’m a huge animal lover, but I needed to understand the physical limitations to wolves. For example, big cats have extremely flexible spines, which allow them to twist in mid-air or mid-leap. (Yep, have a character who can shift to a leopard) Wolves on the other hand, tend to rely on numbers and their jaw and leg strength to dominate a fight. This meant when I had two wolves fighting on page, the description had to mimic reality. Claws that slashed toward unprotected stomachs, jaws locking on the heavy ruff around a neck, even how they moved—only when locked together do they go up on their hind legs, because otherwise their opponent could rip open an unprotected stomach.
Even when I’m working on my Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, research is crucial, even though the topics differ. Military tactics, guns, psychic abilities, locations—it all comes together to make my stories real. The best part—sometimes it’s the unexpected fact you run across that takes your story telling to the next level.
And as an avid reader, I find when my favorite authors add that tiny, jeweled nugget to their stories, they’ve got me hooked. Which leads me to ask: what’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned from your favorite writer?
BIO/BLURBS/FIND ME/BUY LINKS for JAMI GRAY
Jami Gray grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border, and was adopted at the age of 14 to suddenly become the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater. (Decision-making was not her forte at the time.) Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon.
Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab. Delving into the wild paranormal worlds where romance collides with suspense and Urban Fantasy is queen, manages to salvage her sanity. Or so we let her believe…
Blurb for Shadow’s Edge:
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…
It takes a monster to hunt one, and for Raine McCord, forged in the maelstrom of magic and science, she’s the one for the job. In a world where the supernatural live in a shadowy existence with the mundane, a series of disappearances and deaths threatens the secrecy of her kind and indicates someone knows the monsters are alive and kicking. Partnering up with the sexy and tantalizing Gavin Durand proves to be a challenge as dangerous as the prey she hunts.
When the trail points back to the foundation which warped Raine’s magic as a child, her torturous past raises its ugly head. Gavin and Raine sift through a maze of lies, murder and betrayal to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.
Blurb for Shadow’s Soul:
Some nightmares are born of love…
Raine McCord has no problem taking down the monsters of the world, it’s one of the reasons she’s so good at her job. So playing bodyguard to Cheveyo, head Magi of the Northwest, as he consults with the Southwest Kyn should be an easy assignment. Unfortunately, simple task turns into a nightmare when Cheveyo is kidnapped and Raine is left for dead by one of the Kyn’s most feared beings, a Soul Stealer.
The Stealer’s attack leaves lasting wounds, undermining Raine’s confidence as a warrior and damaging her unruly magic. Her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand. Compelled to face the emotions raging between them, they must embrace not only their stormy relationship but their evolving magic to escape the twisted threads of murder and betrayal to find Cheveyo.
As Raine and Gavin come together and begin to unravel the complex web of secrets and hidden vendettas haunting the Southwest Kyn, they discover unsettling new truths that threaten their very existence.
Blurb for Wrapped in Shadows:
The magic of the holidays can be hell…
Celebrations abound during the holidays, but this Christmas an engagement celebration goes horrifically wrong. What appears to be a simple murder/suicide hides a vicious surprise. The type of gift Raine and Gavin, elite member of the Kyn, didn’t want humans to unwrap, becauserevealing the monsters in the shadows isn’t the way to spread holiday cheer.
Blurb for Shadow’s Moon:
Even a wild heart can be broken…
A blonde, a brunette and a monster walk into a bar and all hell breaks loose.
It should have been the start of a bad joke, but days from a full moon Xander Cade, Tracker for the Northwest Motoki Pack, finds nothing funny about confronting an enraged Shifter in a crowded Portland nightclub filled with unsuspecting humans. The resulting carnage frays an already thin veil of secrecy shielding the supernatural Kyn community from public scrutiny, and ensures she can’t escape the one man she’s been determined to avoid, her Alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis. Dominating, protective and compelling, Warrick threatens her individuality like no other.
As the Northwest Alpha wolf, compromise isn’t in Warrick Vidis’s vocabulary, but when his reluctant mate, Xander Cade, refuses to leave off the hunt for a killer, he has no qualms using whoever or whatever necessary to protect her or his pack. A series of unusual deaths involving lone wolves, along with anonymous threats against him and his Pack, begin to jeopardize his normal steely control. Add in Xander’s continual reluctance to fully accept their Soul bond, and the line between intellect and instinct begins to blur, leaving him wondering if one woman’s love and acceptance will be enough to save both man and wolf.
As the danger escalates, threatening not just their Pack but those closest to them, Warrick and Xander must find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond or risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.
Blurb for Hunted by the Past:
Sometimes death is the only way to out run the past…
A reluctant psychic who can relive the past, a man well versed in keeping secrets, and a psychopathic killer enter a deadly game where the past determines the future.
Changing the past is an impossibility ex-Marine, Cynthia “Cyn” Arden, understands all too well. Struggling in the aftermath of a botched mission, which cost her two teammates, her military career, and a fledging relationship, she’s brought home by a panicked phone call. The psychic killer behind her nightmares has escaped military custody to hunt down the remaining teammates, one by one. Next on his murderous list–Cyn. Her only chance at survival is to master the psychic ability she’s spent years denying.
The killer’s game brings her face to face with the one person guaranteed to throw her off kilter—the unsettling and distracting man she left behind, Kayden Shaw. Once she believed he’d stand by her side, until he chose his job and his secrets over her. A choice that’s left the scars of the past etched deep on her mind and heart.
To survive this twisted game, Cyn must risk trusting her heart and accepting who and what she is, or lose not only her life, but the man she loves.
Shadow’s Edge: Book 1 of the Kyn Kronicles
Shadow’s Soul: Book 2 of the Kyn Kronicles, Paranormal Romance Winner of 2012 Shooting Star
Wrapped in Shadows (.5) part of Things That Go Bump For The Holidays—A Collection of Short Stories
Shadow’s Moon: Book 3 of the Kyn Kronicles, 2013 Golden Claddagh Finalist
Coming in July 11th, 2014 from Muse It Up Publishing:
Hunted by the Past: Book 1 of the PSY-IV Teams
And Fall 2014 brings Shadow’s Curse: Book 4 of the Kyn Kronicles.
You can find me at:
Black Opal Books: www.BlackOpalBooks.com
Muse It Up Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI
You can find all the buy links for both books in all formats at:
Or you can use the following:
THE KYN KRONICLES:
Shadow’s Edge: Bk 1 of Kyn Kronicles
Black Opal Books: http://blackopalbooks.com/blackopalstore/product/56-shadows-edge
Shadow’s Soul:Bk 2 of the Kyn Kronicles
Black Opal Books: http://blackopalbooks.com/blackopalstore/product/57-shadows-soul
THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Wrapped in Shadows)
Shadow’s Moon: Bk 3 of the Kyn Kronicles
THE PSY-IV TEAMS:
Hunted by the Past: Bk 1 of PSY-IV Team