questions from the readers: How do you create a scene?
Well … that depends on the scene. Sometimes it’s just a matter of reading the previous draft, bringing the heart rate up, and following a detailed outline. Other times—not so easy. Take the fight scenes, for instance. if you’ve never thrown a punch in your life, writing a detailed fight scene can be a very … inaccurate? … experience. So, I started sniffing around the martial arts world. Mere interviews wouldn’t do. I had to learn it myself. Problem was, there’s more than one style of fighting—self-defense, attack, ground—and I had plenty of characters (all of them) who had to know how to do it. So I signed up for kenpo karate, krav maga, and brazilian ju-jitsu. A few black eyes and some bruises later, I was writing away and Levi looked like a pro!
All those detailed scenes in the cargo plane? Yep! The Air Force calls it Spouse Day. I call it real-time research. I wasn’t fooling around! While the other wives were socializing, sleeping, vomiting, I was busily scrawling intimate details into a pilfered notepad with the general’s pen. I went home and wrote the scene in Entangled with Mandy in the cargo plane before Kiser so rudely throws her out. The scene in The Devil’s Garden with the team on the flight deck wondering what the hell’s wrong with the airplane came from an invitation to my husband’s flight simulator training. To the benefit of my readers, we had a laid-back pilot who didn’t mind if I took the simulator plane for a whirl. The rest of the crew wasn’t in a hurry, sooo … I got the copilot seat! I’ve tried to secure a few minutes in the co-pilot seat on a real cargo plane, but to date the Air Force isn’t cooperating. For the record—I never did get airsick. I wear this tidbit like a badge of honor.
The Carson in the tropical pool scene: Ah, yes. Mandy with the eyes of an over-ripe potato. To her embarrassment and to our delight—yes, she did see Carson naked! [Fanning self] You probably noticed, this scene has the distinct flavor of a romance novel. What? You say. D.C.? Writing romance! I know, I know, it sounds crazy. So how did I do it? Easy. I consulted the romance expert—my sister/first-line beta reader. Like a big girl teaching a crying toddler to walk, she babied me through it. That includes kissing scenes, tender moments, and all those powerful looks. When you see love anywhere in The Entangled Series, thank Celeste.
My nephew—an artillery ground pounder visiting family between deployments—made the mistake of reminiscing about boot camp and a horrible drill sergeant in front of me. My brain snapped to Raul in The Devil’s Garden and my ears perked right up. The unsuspecting soldier starts explaining what it means to ‘get smoked’ in the military. Oh, happy day! Next thing my nephew knows, he’s demonstrating in detail each one (about six total), which included names like The Monkey F**er and Little Man in the Woods, while I sat on the floor taking notes on a notepad. His pitiful cries of ‘can't you write any faster?’ and ‘gimme a minute [pant, pant] to catch my breath’ and ‘I shouldn’t have said anything’ fell on deaf ears. By the time he stomped out of my house, I had pages of descriptions. I’m pleased to announce, The Little Man in the Woods made it into the final cut. This is a prime example of our fine military supporting its American authors. Thanks, John!
Alas, not all my research is pleasant. Some of it TOTALLY sucks! Fender and the spiders: internet at midnight—instant heeby-jeeby protocol (hair in a bun, fly swatter, and potent bug spray). Levi and the coconut grubs: the Discovery Channel on an empty stomach! Blegh! ox, dc