Today on the blog I am thrilled to have a guest post from a very talented author, who has written a cracking read with Scared to Death, Rachel tells me all about her process when researching.
A serial killer murdering for kicks.
A detective seeking revenge.
When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.
But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.
When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.
With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.
For the killer, the game has only just begun…
Scared to Death is a gripping fast paced crime thriller from author Rachel Amphlett, in a new series introducing Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future…
This was quite a read that I devoured in just over a day. It is very cleverly plotted with some parts of the story I expected, others I did not.
Researching a new crime thriller series
With the publication of the new detective Kay Hunter novel, Scared to Death, I found that I
had to find new ways to undertake my research.
My address book is littered with experts in bomb disposal, firearms, helicopters, and other
heavy duty military-type equipment. That doesn’t do me a lot of good when writing about a
Kent-based detective sergeant!
Instead, there were three ways I approached the research for Scared to Death.
One – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know
It’s an old saying, but that’s why old sayings stick around. I lived for a couple of years in the
location where the Kay Hunter series is based, however I emigrated to Australia 11 years ago,
and a lot has changed in that time.
I did manage to get back to the UK earlier this year, but it still meant that I’ve had to email
friends and family to check the feasibility of some of the locations that I’ve used in the book,
to make sure that if anybody who lives locally picks up the book and reads it doesn’t
immediately spot any mistakes. Of course, I do have artistic licence to fall back on but I still
want to make things believable.
It’s not just setting where I needed help. I’m not a police officer, and I’ve never been one.
Sometimes, you just have to ask the help and keep your fingers crossed that you’ll get it. I
was really lucky in that the police contacts I emailed got right on board with the series, and
were delighted to help with the research for it. It means that Scared to Death, from a police
procedural point of view, is very realistic without slowing down the pace of the story.
Two – go and learn it
There are plenty of free study courses available online these days, and many of these are very
useful for researching novels.
A couple of years ago, I studied a forensic science course with the University of Strathclyde.
The course material centred around a murder investigation, and gave a really good
background into how such cases are managed. This year, I’m in the process of studying
forensic psychology, in particular witness investigation through the Open University. None of
these courses have cost me anything, and yet the information has been invaluable.
If this is something of interest to you, simply do a Google search for the topic that interests
you – there is plenty of choice out there!
Three – invest
Sometimes you’re going to have to invest in some research because you can’t find it
anywhere else. For me, that means buying specialist non-fiction books on the subject or maps
when Google Earth can’t help.
My bookshelf today is littered with books about forensics, anatomy of motive, information
about criminal psychology, etc. It may be that I only need the information in one or two
chapters of these books, but that information is critical – and can often lead to more story
For anyone setting out writing a crime thriller, there is one piece of cautionary advice I’d like
to pass on in relation to the above tips. The only problem with learning more, is that you’ll
end up with lots of story ideas and no idea when you’re going to find time to write them!