Get Up and Get Out: Find Your Research Gems in Conversation

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by Carmen Peone

“Just to let you know, I wouldn’t marry her!” said my working cattle ranch-owning contact 

His words made my chest clench. Yet, his profound statement changed the course of my first romantic suspense story’s attitude. 

I didn’t want another weak woman saved by macho man. I wanted real characters facing and overcoming trauma—like domestic violence, death of a parent as a child, and other abuses and adversities.  

Then I asked him, “Why not?” 

“She’s mean.” 

She’s mean? I was blown away but considered his statement.   

Oh, wow…Here I was trying to create a strong ranch woman for my main character who overcomes domestic violence but instead, I’d made her callous and uncaring. His feedback became a turning point for me and was invaluable.  

I loved his honesty 

And I appreciated his candor.  

The truth is, if I had not gotten up out of my chair and went on a personal interview and ranch tour at his place, which happens to be the setting of my Seven Tine Guest Ranch romantic suspense series, then I would have never built a relationship to where my ranch connection could and would have the nerve to speak freely.  

With that, I’d like to encourage you to… 

Get Up… 


Get Out… 

Build relationships with those who are in your character’s occupation and setting.  

G see, hear, smell, touch, and taste their environment 

Your right, it might be easier to sit in front of your computer, information at your fingertips, iced tea or hot coffee and a slice of carrot cake or pecan pie within reach 

But, my question to you is…will you be able to discover those golden gems that only face-to-face contact can uncover?  

So…what is needed for a successful interview? 

  • Goalstell the interviewee what you need ahead of time. 
  • Questionshave them ready: who, what, when, where, how, and be prepared to take a few rabbit trails and see where they might lead. But not so many it’s takes you on an altered path.  
  • Your curiosity and openness. Be yourself but also be professional. If they only have 40 minutes, don’t take 41.  
  • Build report. Take the time to look them up and find out who they are, take clues from their environment (ranch, quilter, doctor, veteran), make them feel comfortable. Care about them.  
  • Listenmore than you talk. And don’t fill in the silence, let them think a minute so they can expand. Remember, God gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason.  
  • Ask to be shown. It pays to see and feel an object. In our writing, the more senses we can pepper in a scene (and not info dump) the more the reader will pay attention.  
  • Gather their stories, you never know what is usable. 
  • Photograph what you see. I have often sat in front of my inspiration boards and stared at photos until I noticed something of value to my story. Something I’d missed while talking, walking, or taking notes.  

And for goodness sake, be confident and have fun!  

This may be hard if you’re an introvert, but I can guarantee you, the more in-person interviews you do, the easier it becomes. Experts want to help. They want to make sure we have correct information and factsThey want our work to be accurate and authentic, as do we, right? 

I’d love to hear any research tips and tidbits you have discovered along the way. 

About the Author:

Carmen PeoneCarmen Peone has lived in Northeast Washington and on the Colville Confederated Indian Reservation since 1988. She had worked with a Tribal Elder, Marguerite Ensminger, for three years learning the Arrow Lakes Language and various cultural traditions. She owns and trains her horses and competes in local Extreme Challenge and Mountain Trail competitions. With a degree in psychology, the thought of writing never entered her mind, until she married her husband and they moved to the reservation after college. With the love of history and western woman lifestyle, she brings stories of hope, family, relationships, and faith to her novels.

These books were a labor of love, especially the second edition of the True to Heart Trilogy. Thank you to my cover model, Shayna Palmanteer of the Colville Confederated Tribes, for your willingness to be a part of this adventure. Visit my website for information on the workbooks that go along with my young adult books at

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