Mark Terry

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


May 5, 2010
Apparently I'm getting a reputation for my research. Okay, fair enough, I guess I do try to do a lot of it.

As several of you know, I'm working on the 5th Derek Stillwater novel, which primarily takes place in Russia. (Also in Baltimore, and in southern Italy, so yeah, I rather wish I had a ton of money to make trips to research these).

I've never been to Russia, nor can I afford to go there for research. So I've got a Frommer's travel book on Moscow and St. Petersburg, I've got an English-language map of Moscow, and I've spent tons and tons of time on the Internet.

Then I got really lucky. I was scanning around on the 'net looking for ex-pat websites for people who live in Moscow. I ran across one run by a woman named Tamara Smith who blogs about the ex-pat family life in Russia. I sent her an e-mail asking her if she could answer some questions for me. She said yes and I asked her if she could, in particular, read 2 chapters of my WIP and tell me what I got wrong. She said sure.

And she wrote me an extensive email in response telling me tons of little details I don't think I ever would have gotten from the Internet (like billboards. In Russia it's illegal to have people in ads for alcohol and cigarettes--hence, no Marlboro Man.)

Then Tamara blew me away. She was familiar with the area I was talking about, so she went out for a walk with her digital camera and took photos of the areas those 2 chapters took place at and made comments. I. Am. Stunned.

This woman's getting acknowledged big-time in this book. And if I can figure out how, I'll send her copies of all my books in gratitude.

Now, Slyakat. What's that?

The book takes place in early April. She wrote this:

"The accumulated snow would be brown, really dirty in April. It's called 'slyakat,' dirty slushy brown snow."

There must be a patron saint of writers looking over me.

(There is, it's St. Francis de Sales. I suspect St. Jude might be more appropriate--the patron saint of lost causes; of course, Derek Stillwater wears a St. Sebastian medal, the patron saint of plagues).


Blogger Eric said...

No useful comment at all, but that's so cool. I guess sometimes writing opens up things and allows us to do things or meet people we wouldn't otherwise.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Indigo said...

I thought this to be such a wicked cool read on your experiences and have to agree you definitely have a patron saint of writers looking out for you.

You also encouraged a bit of research on my part. St. Francis de Sales, is also known as the patron of the deaf. He developed a form of sign language in order to teach a deaf man about God.

How ironic, you should mention him and I a deaf woman am reading you. Aye...patron saint of writers indeed. (Hugs)Indigo

6:57 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Glad you liked it, Indigo.

6:59 AM  
Blogger MoscowMom said...

Hmm... You just got me thinking... Do you need anyone "on the ground" to help you out with Southern Italy? I have contacts there, too... I also lived in Italy and speak Italian...

9:33 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

MM--don't know yet. So far it's just one short chapter in Italy, although I think there will be more. But generally speaking I think they will be fairly internal scenes--on a balcony, on a boat, in a house, etc. But if I do, I'll ask. Thanks.

9:37 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

That is so awesome!

10:05 AM  

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