Research Is a Pain
by Don Bruns
by Don Bruns
I write Caribbean/South Florida mysteries, and everyone I talk to makes fun of the research I must do. Well, I understand that it smacks of self indulgence. I pick out an island, I fly there, I write some of the expenses off, I drink the native drinks, eat the native dishes, stay out till all hours of the night, dive, take boat trips, and do everything that my fictional character would do. It certainly sounds like a lot of fun.
The truth is that it is a lot of hard work. Seriously. The minute the plane lands in St. Barts, Nassau, Barbados, Jamaica, Miami, I have to immediately find a best friend. Someone who likes the idea of entertaining a writer for the next four or five days, and helping escort me to the hot spots. Could be a bartender (St. Barts Breakdown), could be a taxi driver (Barbados Heat), or a nun (Bahama Burnout). And they always become a major character in the book. But I've got to hustle to find that person because I limit myself to five days. There's a lot to cover in five days.
Hanging out at the bars doesn't become just a fun, social connection anymore. I'm taking notes, picking up local conversation. Interacting with tourists and making every effort to capture the romance of the place is essential. Which club is the hottest spot, what does it look like, how much for a bottle of champagne and what celebrities are frequenting the place? Who just boated in on that 70 foot yacht? Rod Stewart? Put him in the book. My new best friend has to introduce me to the restaurants, the galleries, the hottest clothing stores...and hopefully stay out with me until 4 in the morning. (No, the nuns in Bahama Burnout did NOT stay up with me.)
If there's gambling, then I've got to do that. If there's a spot that only the locals go, then I need to see it. I need to talk to the local cops, the gendarmes; I've got to take copious notes, which becomes a real problem because I can't read my own writing. I've got to take hundreds of pictures...not for a desk frame, but because I need to remember a lot of things.
And finally, when it's all done and I'm back in the States, I find that I should have visited this place or done that, and I'm tempted to go back. But I don't. I fill it in with a phone call or a search engine. But, I have captured the island. I've given the reader a $4000 vacation for $24.95. So on top of being an author, I'm also a travel agent. I'm not saying it's not fun. But I go on record saying "It's a lot of work. Research can be a pain!"
About the Author
Don Bruns is a musician, songwriter, advertising executive and award-winning novelist.
Bruns is the author of Jamaica Blue, Barbados Heat, South Beach Shakedown, St. Barts Breakdown and the forthcoming Bahama Burnout, a mystery series featuring rock and roll journalist Mick Sever. Bruns is also the author of Stuff to Die For and Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.
Bruns has also authored several short stories and served as editor of the anthology, A Merry Band of Murderers, which reached #5 on the Independent Mystery Bestsellers List in 2006. He is also a frequent contributor to The Little Blog of Murder.
A former road musician who traveled and performed throughout the US with major entertainment acts, Don Bruns recently released a CD of original songs called Last Flight Out, and performed two original songs at the 2004 Edgar Awards ceremonies.
Don Bruns divides his time between Ohio and South Florida. His website is DonBrunsBooks.com.
Bahama Burnout Giveaway
Don Bruns is giving away a signed copy of his book, Bahama Burnout, to one lucky tour visitor. Go to Don’s book tour page, http://don-bruns.omnimystery.com/, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 6931, for your chance to win. Entries from Bookish Ruth will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Don’s book tour page next week