Making It Real: The Research Behind the Fiction
A reader recently asked me if I had a background in science or if I just did a lot of research for my books. Let me tell you, this question made me giggle. Mostly because this means I’m doing my job as an author. While I don’t crowd my prose with a bunch of boring jargon and formulas (seriously, I hate reading that stuff, so I definitely don’t write it), I do research the heck out of the concepts I include in my fiction. And when my research leaves me confused, I’ve collected many friends over the years that are experts in various topics, so I almost always have someone on hand to shoot questions at. If I can educate as well as entertain, I’m super happy.
Even when I’m writing pure fantasy, however, I’m still researching things to make sure I get the little details right, even if it’s just for my own personal knowledge. This allows me to incorporate facts into my writing without making them sleep-inducing, but still being correct.
There’s a lot of research I did for the Evolution series that I didn’t include a lot of detail on. For example, when I talk about creating the ANGELs, I specifically say they’re bombarded with pulses of Gamma radiation to kick off the genetic changes. This is one instance where I did a lot of research that I didn’t necessarily need for the story itself, but needed to know to make it scientifically plausible. I chose Gamma radiation because, unlike other types of radiation, it has a higher ability to penetrate materials (such as human skin) while causing less damage to tissues. The process to change a person’s DNA (in context of the Evolution series), requires an activation energy (in this case, little photons that bombard other atoms in the body) to start the alterations. Therefore, Gamma radiation is the best choice. There was a reason the writers for the Incredible Hulk chose it!
Another item that required research on my part was the location. I actually grew up in Iowa (Candace’s home town is where my grandmother lived when I was a kid), so I didn’t have to look up much for that. However, when it came to choosing a destination for the ANGEL Project HQ, I sat and scratched my head for a bit. I needed a place with lots of room, preferably with a military surrounding. After scrolling through my mental list, I remembered my husband traveling to a base in California when we were living in Monterey. It’s relatively remote, but in the beautiful Big Sur area, which I could talk about with a good working knowledge as I’d lived in the area for 3 years. However, I did have to look at a lot of photos of the buildings at Fort Hunter-Liggett, as well as studying Google Earth and measuring distances to various locations I transport my superheroes to throughout the series to determine travel times. And speaking of travel, that also meant I had to figure out for myself how fast the ANGEL shuttles could fly. Example: Candace states in book 1 that the superheroes can travel from the California compound to Las Vegas in about 15 minutes. I probably should have kept my notes, but I believe I calculated the speed they’d have to go at roughly 2500 miles per hour, which is faster than any current specs for military aircraft in use right now (although the X-15 could travel up to 4,250 mph, but hasn’t been used since 1970).
I’m laughing a little, because all of this sounds incredibly boring, but in context of the story, it’s really just a footnote. I probably put way more work than I need to into my books, but I have a serious need to get all the little details correct. I refuse to let them distract readers from the story, either by being wrong or by being information overload. If it doesn’t work as something a character would need to know or have to explain, I keep the knowledge to myself. If it is something a character would need to know or have to explain, I make sure to keep it as simple as possible so I don’t bore the heck out of a reader. After all, this is a superhero romance, not a doctoral dissertation.
For me, research is really about grounding the story in reality, not shoving science down a reader’s throat. What happens in the stories I write isn’t generally true, but based on creative extrapolations on what COULD be with our current technology. But I’m not gonna lie, when I hear someone dug deep into the facts of my books and couldn’t find a flaw in my science, that makes me incredibly happy. I’ve always been a huge nerd anyway, so it’s nice to see some of my random knowledge becoming useful.
This is just a little sample of some of the topics I research when writing. I’m sure if you ask any writer, they could give you a laundry list of weird things they’ve had to look up in the name of fiction. We sure do learn a lot, though, and there’s no such thing as too much knowledge!
*I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review
In the past few years, I have read more books than I can count. Because of that, I find it really hard to find a book that's different from the rest. Originality is something that I have been looking for in books lately and I found it Evolution:ANGEL.
Candace became one of my favorite female characters. She is one of the most kickass heroines I have read in a very long time. She doesn't back down from anything and is pretty fierce. She is brave and doesn't take any crap from anyone. I simply adored her. There are many MANY hot guys to swoon over in this book and I adored them all. Jackson and Adrian were my favorite Jackson is the sarcastic bad boy that I always seem to fall for in books and Adrian is the sweet guy that everything he said made me swoon.
The plot of this story is super interesting. Candace applied to become a superhero thanks to the AdvaNced Genetic EvoLution (ANGEL) Project. She wanted to be a member of their elite team since one of them rescued her when she was younger. When she finds out she is accepted to be part of this special project, she is ecstatic. When she arrives to start her treatment to become a superhero, she learns that there's more to it than what the public knows about superheroes and what she had thought.
I have had the pleasure of reading a few other S.A. Huchton books that I immensely enjoyed, but this one is by far my favorite by her. It had everything I love and more. Kickass heroine? Check! Pretty awesome action scenes? Check! Swoon-worthy men? Check! and of course, amazing romance? Check and Check! And that ending almost gave me a heart attack. I was so not expecting all that to happen and I cannot wait for the next book in the series and see where the story will go from here.
Overall, I really loved this book. This book compares to nothing I have read or heard of before. It had tons of actions, great characters,an interesting storyline, and some pretty kickass superheroes. I can definitely say that this book has been one of the best books I have read so far this year.I highly recommend you read this book, you won't be disappointed.
*I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review.*
As someone who likes some originality in my books, I was pretty sure that this one would deliver. It promised superheroes, an interesting main character, and lots of action. Luckily, for me, I got that originality, along with an intriguing story.
Candace was one of the coolest female leads. She was one of those girls I’d love to be friends with. She had attitude, compassion, and was quick to tell people what she thought. I really liked her, and seeing this story through her eyes was really great. I did get a bit annoyed with Candace near the end, when she made a huge decision that changed everything. However, I understood why she did it, and I think that that really showed how skilled the author is at creating interesting, but flawed characters.
The other people in this novel were just as interesting. There was Candace’s cousin Gabe, whom I thought was really great. I liked their relationship, because it was fun and light, but serious when it needed to be. Jackson was very interesting, and I definitely think that there is a lot more to him than the image of the bad boy that he hides behind. I really liked True, as well, because she was a bit of a mentor to Candace, and I thought that Candace really needed a strong female friend to help her through everything. Finally, there was Adrian. I really liked him. The fact that he was a reader was awesome, and I loved that he read to Candace. Most of the events surrounding him are huge spoilers, so I’ll just say that I thought he and Candace were really great as a couple, most of the time.
The plot of this novel was really interesting, and full of action. It was all about Candace training to become a superhero. There were battles, tests, and even some romance. Through it all, I was riveted. I never got bored, and the pace was pretty quick. However, there were some really emotional parts, and the ending of this book killed me.
Overall, I thought that this story was unique, and really interesting. Told through the eyes of a really strong and relatable main character, it was all about life, love, and what it means to be a hero. My only real complaint is that the ending of this novel is a bit brutal, and it ends in the middle of a scene. Other than that though, there’s no reason why any science-fiction lover shouldn’t pick this one up, especially if great heroines are your thing as much as they are mine.
A geek of all trades, Starla Huchton has been crafting stories in various genres since 2007. Her first novel, THE DREAMER'S THREAD was released as a full cast audiobook podcast, becoming a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. After releasing short fiction of steampunk, noir fantasy, and other varieties, she released the first three books of the Sci-Fi Romance ENDURE series in 2013. All three books of the EVOLUTION series will be released in 2014, as well as a Steampunk Fantasy novel, MASTER OF MYTH (the Antigone's Wrath series, book 1), which was the first place winner of the Crested Butte Writers' contest, The Sandy, in 2012.
When not writing, Starla trains three Minions, a black lab, and a military husband whilst designing book covers for independent authors and publishers at designedbystarla.com.
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