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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Melissa McClone


My two favorite parts of writing are rewriting and the research. Rewriting is great because there are already words on the page. No blank page to fill. And researching is just plain fun. I love learning something new when I read so I approach writing the same way.

With CHRISTMAS MAGIC ON THE MOUNTAIN, I had already researched mountain rescue when I wrote RESCUED BY THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS. I had a list of climbers and members of Portland Mountain Rescue to contact if I had specific questions so the climbing part of the story wasn't as much work as the first time around. Of course, the people on the list might tell you differently. I still asked them a ton of questions about climbing and mountain rescue and Mount Hood in December.

The accident and medical parts of the story, however, were where I didn't have a clue. I needed a plausible way for my hero to get hurt without making him look like an idiot. No one wants to read about a stupid hero who deserves the next Darwin award. Lucky for me, both my go-to-research-guy and a doctor/climber suggested an equipment failure.

Researching the actual injuries and medical parts, however, took a lot more time. Fortunately I had expert help to guide me. Okay, guide is not really the right word. It was more like they short-roped me and dragged me up to the summit.

My go-to-research-guy had been injured on Mount Hood in January '09 so I asked if he'd mind helping me even though he was still recovering. He gave me a peek into his emotional and physical state both right after the accident as well as during his recovery. Another climber I'd met on-line had also been injured climbing. His injury helped me narrow down what happened to Sean. Having insight from people who'd had their activities restricted due to an injury helped me better understand my hero.

I also had a huge amount of assistance from an emergency room doctor who climbs. I found him on-line at a climbing forum and asked if he'd mind answering some questions for me. He provided a ton of info so I could write the accident, injury, medical jargon, and hospital scenes. A PA (physician's assistant) who worked with me after I injured myself skiing also answered questions for me about the surgery and recovery.

Even with all this expert research help, I'm sure someone will find something that isn't quite right. That's okay. The goal of my research is plausibility. If something possible, I'm good. And if it's not, well there is such thing as artistic license.

Do you like learning something from the stories you read? If so, does anything stick in your mind?


Maureen said...

It sounds like your research was pretty interesting and led to you meeting some fascinating people. I do enjoy stories about different things that I didn't know anything about and the story introduces you to information about it.

cheryl c said...

I am always impressed with the amount of research an author has to do. I do enjoy learning about things that I will never do myself, like mountain climbing, scuba diving, etc.
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Melissa McClone said...

I've always loved reading Michael Crichton books because I always would learn something new!

These Hood Hamlet stories have really been cool to write. They've opened a new world for me, which is kind of funny because pretty much any where I go around here, I can see Mt. Hood off to the east!

chey said...

Sounds like lots of research!
I like learning something from the books I read.

Dru said...

I learn a lot from reading and sometime it's the little things that I do and then say to myself that I've read it in a book.