Today we are happy to be a stop on the blog tour for Sharon Bayliss’s new book Destruction! Today she talks a but about what kinds of research frequently applies to the writing life. Welcome Sharon!
Depending on the type of story you’re writing, research can be quite different. My first novel, The Charge, was an alternate history. I had to read books on Texas history and examine old maps to re-draw boundaries. I did Google searches that I thought might lead to men in black raiding my house like, “types of bombs” and “layout of The White House.”
However, my latest release, Destruction, is a contemporary fantasy. Neither the word “contemporary” nor the word “fantasy” imply that a lot of research needs to take place. The story is set in the real world, in present day. It also happens to be set in a city about two hours from my house, so it’s not exactly a foreign land or culture. With that said, I was surprised to see how much research I completed to make the story seem as real as possible.
My goal in The December People Series is to show wizards in a realistic way, so my research often meant looking at the world through my characters’ eyes. I actually completed the same Google searches that my character might, “Houston private schools,” “directions to Odessa, Texas,” “parenting children who have been abused,” etc. I looked at Houston neighborhoods to decide where they might live, I determined which public schools the children would attend, checked which hospitals they might visit, and tracked their driving routes. Chances are that very few people, if any, will ever take notice of a lot of these minor details, but I do believe that the realism shines through.
And, one of the great things about writing fantasy, is that you can just make it all up, right? To some extent, that is true. But, if you want the story to feel believable, it helps to build your fantasy elements on real world concepts and beliefs. One of my most important pieces of research was on real world witches and magic. That’s where I got the idea for the magic based around the four seasons, and the special meaning to the equinoxes and the solstices. I did research online, but also got help from my mother. She is involved in some pagan practices and I went with her to a winter solstice celebration last year where she played the role of Mother Night.
Research isn’t necessarily my favorite part of writing, but I love the richness and realism it creates. And, if you’re stuck, researching the character’s world and concepts can be a great way to spark creativity.
Now, read a little bit about Destruction:
David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn’t a choice.
Eleven years ago, David’s secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.
Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David’s wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.
Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.
Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.