Over the years, I’ve made a point of seeking out danger. Partly so I can write about the emotions of my Intrigue heroes and heroines when they’re in a tight spot. And partly to try out perils that may end up in my books.
About four years ago I ended up in the passenger seat of a two-person glider, being towed into the air by a small, single-engine plane. FYI, the passenger seat is in the front. The guy who’s steering the glider is in the back. These babies are smaller than a World War II fighter, and there’s no engine. The little plane took us four thousand feet into the air. Then the pilot asks me to turn the lever that cuts us loose. I did, and we glided free in the sky above Santa Ynez, California, then over the former Reagan ranch. The worst part was being dragged along behind that little plane. Every time it tipped to the left or right, we also tipped, and I held onto the sides of the cockpit with white knuckles. But once we were on our own, it was like floating on a cloud. Or it would have been, if there had been any clouds in that perfectly blue sky.
At the other research extreme, about twelve years ago, I went down to the edge of the Atlantic shelf in a submarine, off the coast of Grand Cayman Island. It was a small sub, but unlike on the tiny glider, there were 29 other passengers lined up at seats along the hull, each with a viewing window. Before we dove, each of us was handed a kind of mask. The pilot told us that it was a “rebreather.” He went on to say, “If we get stuck for any reason, you can breathe through this thing for up to four hours.” Oh great, I thought. If I get stuck in this tin can with 29 other passengers, I’ll go stark raving mad and forget how to breathe at all.
When I go out on a research trip, I don’t always know how I’m going to use the experience in a book. Or if I will. I haven’t glided any heroes or heroines into enemy territory yet, but my submarine mission was perfect for my August Intrigue, MORE THAN A MAN. Only I made it ten times worse for my hero, Noah Fielding. As the book opens, Noah’s been stuck in a small, experimental sub off Grand Cayman. (Big coincidence, right?) The mother ship has hauled the sub up, and everybody except Noah is dead. The cops think he lived because he hogged the oxygen. The real reason Noah survives is that he was born 700 years ago in a little English village. He doesn’t know why he’s lived so long. But dying millionaire Jarred Bainbridge reads about the incident and is determined to capture Noah and discover his secret.
I love to use my research in my books. If I’ve “been there,” the experience is all the more real when I write about it.
Do you like to travel? What are some of your most memorable experiences? I’ll be sending a copy of my RT Top Pick Intrigue, CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, to one reader who posts responses.