Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Temptation Tuesday :: Traveling For Research

Bestselling author Emilie Rose joins us this Tuesday to share romance writings greatest perk (well, at least in the top three) -- TRAVELING FOR RESEARCH!


Books are supposed to take you to another world. Sometimes, if an author is very, very lucky, the research can too.

A year or so ago I had exactly that opportunity when I was offered the chance to write my November 2007 Desire. SECRETS OF THE TYCOON’S BRIDE is a “continuity story.” That’s when the editors come up with two pages of the basic premise, the main characters and the location for a series. The author fills up the rest of the 200+ pages by expanding on all that plus putting her spin on whole deal. One of the best parts of a continuity is getting to play with the other authors in the series. More often than not my teammates are some of my favorite authors. When I wrote the Napa Valley continuity 2 years ago Sara Orwig, one of the other authors, was kind enough to take the Napa trip and send us all pictures and stories. This time, I elected myself for that job.

For those of you who don’t know me, let me tell you a secret. I can be a pushy broad. Never more so than when backed against a wall and in desperate need of a vacation. Picture me enduring my second year without a vacation. Not pretty. My husband knew better than to argue when I informed him we were taking a research trip. And FYI, the publisher doesn’t pay for the trip, but I must have had a crazed look in my eyes that warned the husband not to argue about the expense.

SECRETS OF THE TYCOON’S BRIDE is set in South Beach (SOBE), a ritzy, hip segment of Miami Beach. And trust me when I say, this semi-redneck North Carolina girl (neither ritzy nor hip) had no idea what Metropolitan beach was like. Because of a plot complication I also had to work in a trip to the Bahamas. Tough job, eh? So I planned to spend three days in South Beach and then take a short cruise (my first) to the Bahamas. Bonus: we were leaving our 4 sons at home.

Things started going well the minute we arrived at the hotel. Our room wasn’t ready and we were consequently upgraded to a posh suite half the size of my house at no extra charge. Nice. Desires are currently set around the world of affluence and privilege. I caught a glimpse of that milieu when I opened our hotel fridge and spotted champagnes, wines and liquors priced around the cost of car payments. I didn’t open any of those too-rich-for-my-blood-and-bank-account bottles, but I was impressed enough to take a picture of the contents of the refrigerator. (I told you I have redneck roots)

The beach itself was eye opening. Picture studly guys wearing dress pants strutting down the sidewalks—shirtless. Okay, so now my job was really getting difficult. I HAD to look. South Beach is known for buff bodies, oh, and fake everything. Tans, boobs, pecs, calves, whatever. If it can be surgically enhanced, you’ll see it in SOBE. My husband enjoyed the beach where several sets of those enhanced breasts were on display. (We don’t see that in NC.) No, not everyone went topless or squeezed into a Speedo or thong, but there was enough skin there to make life more interesting than the book I’d brought along to read. And I FORCED myself to look—for the sake of my author teammates, of course.

The coffee shops were another shocker for this country girl. I usually need a couple of cups of coffee to wake up. (okay, a quart) But my eyes received a jolt on our first morning that negated the need for caffeine. We went to a nearby coffee shop for breakfast and right there next to the power shakes, croissants and gum were condoms. Five brands of condoms. Big boxes. Think party/orgy pack. Now I don’t know about you, but buying breakfast and a side of prophylactics seems a bit…unusual. Need I repeat we don’t have that in NC? You know I had to put that in the book.

The cruise could have been trouble with a capital T. You’re given a card that is your room key, your ID and your credit card. You don’t spend cash onboard ship. You just swipe that little magical card in the gift shops, the bars, the spa… Dangerous unless you’re very anal about keeping up with expenditures. If I had been with anyone other than my spouse who is a recovering alcoholic, then I would have had far too many of those cute little umbrella drinks that came in collector glasses that you could keep—if you could fit them in your luggage. As it was, keeping him sober meant keeping me sober. (next cruise I’m going without him)

I wanted to kidnap a few of the cruise line’s employees and take them home with me. Why? Besides the fact that 90% of them were gorgeous, young and buff? They waited on you with such attention to detail that you usually had whatever you needed before you realized you needed it. I could and would like to get used to that.

For the most part being an author means sitting at home alone, talking to imaginary people and staring at a computer all day, but once in a while the research can be a real blast. My only question is…where should I set the next story? I feel the need for a vacation coming on.



ME TOO!! Thanks for sharing with us here at The Pink Heart Society. For more about Emile be sure to check out her website or the Desire Authors website.

6 comments:

  1. Hmmmm. Maybe my sister and I will plan our next hunk-gazing... er... girls' road trip to South Beach. I've done the diet but never been there. Sounds like fun. We did a cruise earlier this month. I hear ya on that shipboard card. I saw folks getting in real trouble with it. Neat, though, that you got to research your book so realistically.

    Marilyn

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  2. Hooray for research! (You will probably never hear THAT coming out of my mouth again.) Can't wait to read your new book! The condom thing made me laugh. A lot.

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  3. Sounds like a great trip!! I've been to Miami several times but never to South Beach, and I really want to go there. Sounds like fun :-))))

    My next book is set in Mendoza, Argentina, and I would totally love to go there--it's in the middle of wine country in the foothills of the Andes and is a gorgeous city with decoratively paved sidewalks where you have to step over channels of fresh water flowing down from the mountains ::sigh:: Too long a plane flight for the kids, though.

    I love the idea that each trip you take can be tax-deductible research. So, where did you decide to go next, huh? Huh?

    Jen

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  4. Emilie, thanks for this post! You made me laugh several times--for instance, when you mentioned taking a photo of the fridge! We're getting ready to leave for our first cruise ever (to Hawaii), so it was great to read about your experience. Those little key card thingies sound waay too fun.

    Traveling for research has got to be one of the biggest perks of being an author. The other perk, of course, is just dreaming about a place from the comfort of home. Then you have all of the fantasy, but none of the expense/ lost luggage/ exhausting flights/ stomach upset. *grin*

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  5. Emilie, I'm so glad you got to go to South Beach! My hairdresser (who is Hispanic and homosexual) adores South Beach. Of course, he saves lots of money before a trip so he can spend like crazy. And, like you, I would totally have taken a picture of the fridge! *g*

    Jennie, beware of the key cards! They are way dangerous. Especially if you are imbibing. We went on a cruise last November and my husband swore off hard liquor once and for all after that trip. I suppose the beer won't be as expensive...

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  6. See this just fired me up for a trip i'm hopefully planning for next year. I never thought I'd like hot destinations until we went to Orlando last year and I absolutely loved lazing around the pool in November!

    Yeah, and the high for today is -2 C here. I guess that kind of makes sense, doesn't it! LOL

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