You might not think there’d be much to research for a book about three women stuck in an elevator–after all, we all ride in elevators, right? And the women’s lives are pure fiction, which could easily be invented.

Well . . . no. As a writer who got her start in nonfiction, that’s the base from which I work. I couldn’t create a mythological building, I drove into Tampa and picked a building, then used it as the setting for the story. (I used the Park Tower–in the book, it’s the Lark Tower.)

As to the women, I had to research their lives, particularly Isabel’s. She was from Mexico, so I not only had to find a native Spanish speaker to check my language, I had to figure out her backstory and root it in something credible. There’s a moment when Isabel looks out and sees a billboard–that’s based on a series of real buildboards in Mexico; I read about them in the paper.

I had to learn about head hunters for Michelle; and I pretty much imagined Gina’s life, since hers is closest to my own.

And the hurricane–it’s almost a character in itself. Fortunately, the Tampa region is my home, and we’ve done all kinds of studies about what would happen here if we were hit by a major hurricane. I was able to find charts that detailed, hour by hour, what would be happening to our roads, our bridges, and our power supply if a major hurricane were headed our way. Lovely materials!

So–lots of research was necessary, lots of street name-checking. When I set a book in a real town, as opposed to a fictional one, I try my best to get it right.

As to the elevator–in the beginning, I happened to run into a pair of elevator repairmen at a hotel where I was staying. They let me peek into the shaft and told me a little about elevator operation. I thought that would be all I needed . . . until I started writing. But more on that later.

My research notebook was bulging with information, but I do most of the research as I go . . . because I never know exactly what I’m going to need until I get there.

Tomorrow: The writing

P.S. Yea! I finished my first draft of THE FACE yesterday. Now it’s time for triage, to see where it’s bleeding . . .



  1. Marla

    This is thrilling for me to read about how this book came into being. Have you done this with all your books (blogged about the process)? I’ll check your archives.

    How fast does a novel usually go for you from first word to on the shelf?

  2. jan

    just another reason why i love your books! when i read a book that you have authored, i know that i can count on the information being factual. thanks for all of the research, hard work, and love that goes into each one of your books!

  3. Patti Goldbach

    Having once lived for nearly 15 years in the same area you do, reading this book was very real to me. At times, it was as if I was reading an article from either the Trib or Times. Guess that’s why I enjoyed reading it so much. I could envision the places you mentioned in the book. Still the story was really terrific wherever it might have taken place. Now I’m anxiously waiting the new book.

    Our brother in law is an attorney, his brother is a doctor, and together they have written several books – one has been published and one made into a movie. Knowing how much I love to read, he would send me a copies to read and make notes for him. Sometimes the stories would have two or more endings and he’d want my opinion on each. Just from that standpoint, I have a wee bit of insight on what goes on while writing a book.

  4. Melissa

    Angie,you’ve said that when you research for your books,you always have thick notebooks crammed with all the info (background,history and such). what do yu do with the notebooks after you’re done?keep them in case yu need to look at the info again or just pitch and recycle all the paper and such?

  5. Angela

    Thanks for the tip, Marla. I’m glad Mandisa’s book is being well-received. She’s very sweet and has a great story to tell.

    Thanks for your comment on that blog, too. YOU are very kind.

    BTW–if anyone is asking questions in the BOM comments, I’m saving them for the 7th, when I’ll answer all in one fell swoop. Thanks!


  6. Accidental Poet

    Just got my flyer for the conference in Edmonton in September – looking forward to hearing you!!!



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