By Kathryn Lane
I place my novels in countries where I traveled during my corporate job. Miami is a city where I attended many regional conferences. I also passed through the international airport innumerable times coming from or going to Latin America and the Caribbean. Yet I only saw the city from airline windows as we approached the airport, through taxi windows as we drove to hotel conferences, or from hotel rooms for the couple of days I would attend meetings.
Now I’m setting a novel in Miami. It’s the perfect excuse to do on-site research and get to know the city. I’d planned this trip last year and then Covid hit, so I put my novel on hold. Now I’m here in a wonderfully hospitable city. I love that Spanish is spoken everywhere. A diverse city, Miami is a melting pot of people from Latin America and the Caribbean. And yet there are immigrants representing every country in the world. Tourists from around the globe flock here, too.
My novel starts in Miami and takes my protagonist, Nikki Garcia, to Cuba. Of course, I do online research before I travel. Online experiences do not provide the “feel” of a place, the culture, the food, or the special little bits of information I like to add to my novels.
My husband is a wonderful travel companion on research trips. He’s a great sport when I ask him to explore areas he might not be interested in seeing. Over the time I’ve been an author, we’ve encountered surprises, whether it’s walking the old neighborhoods of Barcelona to locate a mosque as in a previous trip, or to explore a section of the Everglades, like on this trip. Or finding a Cuban restaurant in Little Havana in Miami, walking in, and discovering it served Spanish food, not Cuban. What the heck, we were there so we ate seafood paella.
When I’m performing on-site research, I like to put myself into Nikki’s shoes. How would she react to living in a condo in Miami Beach? Eating at Little Havana? Interviewing security guards in Doral? Would she shop for fresh lychee fruit and orchids in the Redlands agricultural area on the west side of the city? Should she discover a corpse in the Everglades or in a canal on Cutler Bay? Would she visit the Deering Estate and Key Biscayne?
Bob and I follow the outline of the places I want to investigate. Doing this work makes me feel like a location scout for a big production company. Of course, this is only one part of my research. And it’s definitely the most fun!
After indulging in food, music, and culture, then reality sets in and I have to actually write the story!
What kind of research do you do? Do you enjoy researching various topics for your novels? Ever done on-site research?
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Kathryn Lane started out as a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from
The Nikki Garcia Mystery Series: eBook Trilogy https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GZNF17G
All photographs are used in an editorial or educational manner.
The Grounds at Deering Estate, Lily Pads in the Everglades, and Server Showing Paella are photos by Kathryn Lane