Our next guest on the Crime Cafe podcast will be crime writer Sherry Knowlton.
Check out her guest post on the pleasures of combining research and travel as part of her writing ritual.
She’s also doing a giveaway of the book pictured to the left of these words. See the details below. After you finish reading the post. There will be a test. No there won’t! Pay no attention to me. 🙂
Just, you know … keep reading …! 🙂
Guest Post by Sherry Knowlton
For me, one of the pleasures of writing novels is the research. My Alexa Williams suspense novels always require some type of research, sometimes extensive, sometimes minor. Even though the first four books are set in my home territory, Southcentral Pennsylvania, I usually need to better understand some of the topical themes and issues I write about. I always want enough accuracy and detail for the story I’m telling to flow credibly. I had the best experience so far in researching the latest in the series, Dead on the Delta.
My husband and I are dedicated travelers and have gone on many safaris to various African countries. Botswana is our favorite safari destination, and I love the Okavango Delta region so much I wanted to write about it. It has beauty, adventure, wild animals. It’s remote with an inherent element of danger. What could be a better setting for a suspense novel? We tried to capture a feel for the setting in the trailer for Dead on the Delta.
However, even though I’d been to Botswana several times, I realized that I needed to know more about certain topics to write about them. For example, what was the current situation regarding elephant poaching in the country? What does a lion conservation researcher do on a daily basis? What are the nuances of the nation’s political system?
So, my husband and I spent four weeks in Botswana and Southern Africa interviewing experts, touring certain areas, and soaking up information and atmosphere. Our trip included a multi-week safari in the Okavango Delta, a wildlife haven, and national parks in neighboring Zimbabwe and Zambia. We spent time in Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone, learning about the government, current political issues, and talked to an official at the US Embassy there about wildlife conservation and poaching. However, the highlight of our trip was the three days I spent in the wild with a young woman who does lion research for an Oxford University-affiliated program called WildCRU. She graciously answered all my questions about her specific lion conservation project and her daily work activities. We accompanied her on several trips into the field where she was preparing for an annual “camera trap” survey that would capture photos of all the lions in a particular wildlife reserve. And, of course, we saw lots of lions. My publisher’s cover designer ended up using my husband’s photo of one of the male lions on the cover of Dead on the Delta!
I’m doing a giveaway. One lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of Dead on the Delta, the fifth (and latest) book in the Alexa Williams suspense series. To enter, please send me an email with the subject line “Dead on the Delta Giveaway.” Please include your name, address, and email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will do a random drawing of those who participate. My apologies, but I must limit this contest to those living in the US, since it would be extraordinarily expensive to mail books outside of the US. For more information on the Alexa Williams series and to sign up for my newsletter, visit my website, www.SherryKnowlton.com.
Sherry Knowlton is the author of the Alexa Williams suspense series, including Dead of Autumn and Dead on the Delta. When not writing, she works with her health care consulting business or travels the world. Many of her travel stories are documented in the Beyond the Sunset series. She and her husband live in the mountains of Southcentral Pennsylvania.