Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How Far Will You Go To Research Your Next Novel?

© Marta Stephens 2010 all rights reserved

When I think of research, I think of interviews with professionals in the field, scouring the pages of books and journals, and doing more than a few Google searches to find what I need.

Today I'd like to share a bit about a fellow author and friend, David L. Robbins, author of nine historic suspense novels. His latest, BROKEN JEWEL, was released on November 9, 2009. 

I recently received the following e-mail from David (reprinted here with permission) in which he shares a bit about his next novel, THE DEVIL'S WATERS, and his form of research--the kind of trip he embarks on to research all of his works.  Check out some of his photos from other trips on his website!

My thoughts and prayers are with him for safe travels.


On February 24th, I’ll be heading for Africa, to research my upcoming novel THE DEVIL'S WATERS. This will be a contemporary swashbuckler set in the waters around the Horn of Africa, plied by a significant fraction of the world’s cargo shipping, and Somali pirates.

My research trip will take me from Malta, through Suez, south along the Red Sea, then out into the Gulf of Aden, north to Dubai. These are pirate waters. I will be on the cargo freighter CMA CGM Wagner (;  as a passenger. I’ll be taking notes for the book, asking questions, imagining scenes and characters. After that, I’ll spend a week in Djibouti, working with an elite Air Force unit, the PJ’s (pararescue jumpers). They’ll be the heroes of the novel.

And I will be Tweeting and blogging.

For THE DEVIL'S WATERS, I intend to record the entire creation of the book, from my initial research and travel all the way through completion. There will be daily updates of my progress, bibliographies of source material, and once I start writing in April, insights into the development of the pages themselves.

For those of you good folks who are fans and supporters of my work, and for the aspiring writers in the crowd, I intend to make this journey with you alongside as best I can. My hope is that you’ll enjoy the experience, learn something, and tell others you think might find this instructive or even fun. For me, I’ll have the thrill (fingers crossed) and support of taking a community of interested readers and writers along for what is always a daunting challenge, the crafting of a novel.

You can find my updates on Twitter at (;  and on Facebook at the new David L. Robbins Fan Page (  

This is all new for me, and exciting. I’ll try not to get kidnapped along the way.

See you online. Thanks, and take care.

Best regards,

David R.


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

What a wonderful idea. I can't tell you how many times I stop by Murder by 4, read a post and think, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Actually, I had planned on sharing my experience with my editor -- if she ever contacts me. She said we'd begin work in the New Year. It's the middle of February.

But that's a subject for another post. Thanks, Marta. As usual, you've got me thinking.

s.w. vaughn said...

Have fun, David! :D

Kim Smith said...

How fabulous for David to be able to pursue such an endeavor! I hope you will share more of this Marta!

David Ebright said...

I'd go pretty far for the sake of research - but not Africa. Good luck & don't go steppin' in any elephant ... stuff.

Interesting post & good luck 2ya.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Fascinating! I'd love to follow along with David and his upcoming adventures. Wow! Thanks, Marta, for sharing this and David, have a blast!!!

Susan Whitfield said...

EEK! David, I love to travel and I live for research but I'm certainly not gutsy enough to go into real-life pirate territory. Enjoy the thrill but don't lose your head in the process:-]