new books / writing

I Heart Research

Research is one of the things I love the most when I’m about to write a new book. I’ve got the initial ideas, but now I need to delve into them, make sure I have my facts straight. My stories are fantasy adventure, but they’re based in the real world. In order to make my fantasy believable, I have to make my real world believable too.

I had so much fun researching places and animals for my second book in The Scarlet Files series. The book’s called Mission Gone Wild and is coming out on July 7th.

from OUP

Part of the book is based in the Everglades, a national park in Florida, USA. It’s a majestic subtropical wetland, full of sawgrass prairies, fresh water rivers, estuaries and mangrove swamps.


Last August I was incredibly lucky because I managed to visit the Everglades. I wanted to soak up the atmosphere, appreciate the wind and spray when you ride on a hovercraft, and feel the tingle of ice-cold water when you dip your toes in the river. I didn’t do that for long, as Alligators are rife there. And alligators are the main reason I went.

And I am so glad I did. I’d already written some of my book by the time I got over to the States, and I’d included parts where an alligator swims. Now I have a little question for you.

How do you think alligators swim? Do they

  1. Use their limbs?
  2. Use their tails?

I’d written about an alligator paddling furiously through the water, like a dog doing doggy paddle. Then last August we visited the Anhinga Trail, an amazing part of the Everglades. There are pathways and jungles where the alligators stroll out in front of you. There are boardwalks that stretch over narrow rivers so you can watch the alligators swim directly beneath.

I was standing on a bridge, when my heart stopped. An alligator glided gracefully, majestically towards me, its tail swaying from side to side, its limbs floating behind. There was no frantic paddling. It was smooth, almost menacing. I felt very honored that I was able to see these prehistoric creatures so close up.


As soon as I got to the UK, I edited my book. I made it real. If I hadn’t, I’m sure someone would have felt cheated that I hadn’t done my homework, thatI hadn’t made my story believable.

To me, research is an essential part of story writing. Thank goodness it’s so much fun!

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