The Importance of Research

I’ve written about my friend, Holly McClure, a very talented author and storyteller over the past couple of years on this blog.  Holly is sharing a post today in which she writes about the process of doing research for a book.  In this case, “Conjuror”, a soon to be released novel, published my Mercer Press.  I think you’ll enjoy Holly’s writing and I can tell you, having read the story, you’ll want to read it too!  You might also put her book “The Vessel Of Scion” on your summer reading list.  It’s a thriller ala Dan Brown and available on here:




You wont believe where I went to research a book.  With Conjuror scheduled for a September 1st release from Mercer University Press, I’m hard at work on a sequel. I was writing along, like I knew what I was doing, until I hit a complete impasse.  Here’s how it went.
Location:  a logging operation on the side of a North Carolina mountain.
Scene:  Yona Copperhead is driving his treasured old Mac Truck, a keepsake from his dead father.  The rear truck weighted down with logs, breaks through the ground and reveals a bio hazard that threatens the life of everybody in the town below.
Mack truck
The scene began:
Yona climbed behind the wheel of the first Mac truck his daddy bought when he started Copperhead Logging, back in the days of chain saws and pulleys. Walker Copperhead sat beside him, looking somber. The crew gathered around the loaded truck like they stood beside a grave.
“Hard to believe, this is the old girl’s last haul,” Yona said.“I was thinking how scared my boy was when he told Kate he took on five years of debt to buy a bulldog,”
 Walker said. “And the celebration we had when Kate took one look at his new truck and told him she had a good feeling about it.
Yona yelled out the window at the crew, “She’ s not dead, just retiring. Get back to work 
 He turned the key in the ignition and the engine roared into action. With skill instilled in him by a father who taught him to drive when he was twelve, he shifted into gear and eased forward…
And, that’s as far as I got. Next would come the moment when the rear wheel of the loaded truck went through the ground and got stuck. It would have to be pulled out, but how. With what? What would that look like? What kind of sounds would it make? How would Yona control it? For that matter, what would the site look like? Yona Copperhead and his logging crew play a big part in Covenant, so I needed to understand their world.  I’m dead serious about researching my books. The next week found me roaring through the North Georgia woods in a high speed 4×4 muddy golf cart called a Gator. On the job site, I was surrounded by loggers and the most intimidating collection of machines I’ve ever seen. D&S Logging is the pride and joy of David and his son, Shane.I asked David the question that convinced me I needed to do some research.
“If a truck got stuck, how would you get it out?”


“I’d probably have them bring around the skidder,” David said.So, now I had the next line in the scene. Somebody would say something like, “bring around the skidder.
 But what the heck was a skidder?  Well, it looks like this, only so much bigger than it looks here. I mean, it’s huge. And it looked like it could pick up one of those giant trucks and move it like a twig.
picking up logs
The operator waved, and swept back around to pick up another enormous log, which he fed into another machine that stripped off limbs and bark. In a couple of minutes, that big log was cut in precise lengths and loaded on a truck. The operator must have been listening to music on his earphones. I saw him singing along in his air-conditioned cab.  
Down the hill, a machine like giant mechanical scissors, snipped down great big trees and fed them to the next machine to be stripped clean.
Trucks pulled up one after another, stood in line for loading, and drove away. At least one was driven by a young woman, handling that big machine like a boss.  David pointed out the machines that created the roads. That was the second part of every job, coming in with a bulldozer and laying out roads to the loading sites. The foresters came first, to assess the timber and negotiate the deal.
service truck
 A service trucks sits equipped for emergencies,loaded with pumper and water in case of fire.  There’s one at every site.  Safety first.
processing plant
Another machine turned underbrush and debris into tiny chips,which it sprayed into something that looked like a box car.  David explained this was why all his job sites looked like parks when he finished. He carefully selected trees for harvesting, leaving trees of differing age and size, then cleaned up the underbrush and trash. The clean-up became bio-mass fuel. The work site I toured would be a hunting preserve.  Others might be cleared for shopping centers or subdivisions.  He had eight crews busy that day, like the one working this site.  David gave me a ride in one of the big trucks so I could see where they delivered the logs.  Good quality logs like these would become floors, cabinets or furniture.  Trucks circled through, unloaded by machines and back to the job site for another load.
I believe in knowing as much as possible about my characters.  The Copperhead family in Conjuror and the sequel, Covenant, own a logging company, and I needed to learn about what they do. I was impressed with the technology involved, and with the careful attention to the environment. No clear cutting, unless the site owners required it for building. David took great pride in leaving strong timber and a clean forest behind.  As the inspiration for Yona Copperhead, he wants to make sure I get it right. I should confess, D&S logging is a family business, founded by my big Brother, David McClure.  Thanks for taking your little sister to work, David.  Can’t  wait for another death defying ride on the gator.
DAVID for blog
I’m proud of you, David. You’re a good man


One Response

  1. Velda Brotherton Says:

    Enjoyed sharing your researching time with you. It’s good to see that you want to be sure of your facts, which I know will make your books all the more enjoyable. This one sounds like a winner.

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