Guest blogger: Erin Moira O’Hara
When in my world, research is anything but tedious, and never dull.
I’m one of those annoying writers who love to research everything. Like Liz Harris, who wrote a blog in June called ‘Research diet’; I also forget to eat when researching.
I recently released a book in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, as it’s one of my favourite places, so what better excuse than to go there for a holiday and do a little research. I have family in and around Ravenna and Bologna. It made all the difference; opening up so many opportunities to see and experience things the normal tourist misses.
My latest Steele Ops release, Jewel of the Kimberley, is set in Broome, Western Australia. My hero is a Black Hawk pilot and as such there are several intense chopper scenes. So, it was important I have a little understanding of how they work. This has to be one of my greatest research projects. Initially I approached Skyline Helicopters with the intention of picking their pilot’s brains, watching a video and having the controls explained to me. By the end of the day I was flying over the port of Newcastle, handling the dual controls of a small chopper. Fantastic. Thanks to a Facebook friend, I was also put in touch with a Navy Seahawk pilot, who has been instrumental in helping me with the mechanics of flying those big choppers. Also for this book, I went undercover as a work experience ship surveyor, so I could explore a coal freighter from top to bottom. What an experience. I also had access to a master mariner, who happily answered all my questions.
For another Steele Ops book, Precious Gems, I travelled to Vietnam and stumbled across the hill-tribe women of Sapa, where it’s not unusual for young girls of thirteen to be married off. In Hanoi, I found unwanted and abandoned children being cared for by female monks, a better outcome then living on the streets, where their future isn’t so good. For my first Steele Ops book, The Kalista Diamond, I interviewed a man who once belonged to Melbourne’s underworld. That was very interesting, especially when he asked if I was wired. Yikes. I also have a sister who is not only a fabulous Jillaroo, but she owns a Hereford Cattle Stud. This comes in very handy for the horse and cattle scenes in my books.
My latest venture is set around the world of cyber fraud. So far I have interviewed Professor Pablo Mascato, a leading figure in computer science. He introduced me to one of his analysts, who has agreed to help me. Next I need to find someone in the field of theatrical make-up, and research some small out of the way islands.
Jewel of the Kimberley
Nick Flanagan had two passions—his fiancée, Ava, and flying Black Hawks. Then he was accepted into a special unit within the SAS, it was a dream come true. That dream cost him Ava. In the four years since, he’s lived hard and fast. Now, having discovered a treacherous lie, Nick wants Ava back. First though, he must contend with a rival, who has an agenda of his own.
Ava Mitchell’s parents had been cool and distant her whole life, so when she fell for fun loving Nick Flanagan, he became her world. After three wonderful years together, Nick joined the SAS and cancelled their wedding. Devastated, Ava walked out, hoping he’d resign and come after her. Several weeks later her biggest fear became a reality when she received word he’d been killed.
Now a successful designer, Ava is about to risk her heart again when the unimaginable happens—Nick walks back into her life. Can she trust the man she once adored, or will he and a band of smugglers destroy her life? To survive she will need a miracle or perhaps a team of heroic commandos.