I think the part of being a writer that appeals most to me is the vicarious thrill of it all. It may even be why I'm drawn to romantic suspense; having lived a life blessedly free of violence yet very aware of the danger and evil lurking all around, I'm constantly exploring the question: how do people survive meeting danger face to face? What inner resources must a person possess to triumph over evil? How does an average person find the strength to conquer a threat?
The other part of the vicarious thrill that appeals to me is exploring new places through the eyes of my characters. In CODE NAME: WILLOW, it was the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, all places I'd been before but didn't know intimately. In CRYBABY FALLS, though most places were fictional, I did a lot of research into the Appalachian Piedmont up around DeKalb County, Alabama, where Little River Canyon and Fort Payne are located. WILD CARD was set in a fictional town in southeastern Georgia, near Savannah. I didn't have to do as much research for that, since most of the action took place in the fictional town, but I did do some research into Savannah, and I expect I'll do more when I get around to writing Shannon's story.
SHOWDOWN, my new WIP, may turn out to be the biggest adventure of all. I'm taking my characters on a hair-raising cross-country road trip to escape some ruthless, well-connected killers. They'll travel from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Townsend, Montana, with stops all along the midwest, from a campground outside Youngstown, Ohio to a high rise apartment in Chicago, to a detour through the South Dakota Badlands. I've been to none of those places, and I won't have a chance to visit any of them before the book is finished. But that's one good thing about being involved in RWA and other writers' communities--I now know lots of people who HAVE been there, even live there now, and are willing to help me work out the details.
So if I ask for help, please take a little pity on a southern girl without the means or the time to take a whirlwind tour of the midwest.