When I started writing my novel, Peril, which includes a number of scenes at NASCAR tracks, I knew very little about auto racing. To give my story the authentic flair necessary to make the setting feel real, I needed to do a considerable amount of research.
So I headed to the library, where I checked out biographies, books about the tracks, coffee table books, even children’s books and a book about the physics of NASCAR. For several months, I soaked up information and peppered it throughout my manuscript. But eventually I hit a wall. I had read plenty of facts, learned racing vocabulary, and viewed pictures of tracks, cars, and garages, but I still didn’t know what it felt like to be at a track.
Since I live near Gateway International Raceway, just outside of St. Louis, and I had heard of organizations which minister to people who travel the racing circuit, I hopped on the internet, located Midwest Raceway Ministries, and made a phone call. Several months later, I picked up my credentials and joined other volunteers at the Nationwide NASCAR race at Gateway. As I rode with a veteran chaplain on a golf cart on a tour around the property and through the infield, I drank in everything I saw and heard.
After putting in a full day at the track, the first thing I did when I got back home was make changes to the manuscript of Peril. Once I stood next to a pit wagon—the command center for a car, located on pit road—and realized how big it was, I knew one of the scenes I’d written wouldn’t work, so out it went. My experience allowed me to weave into the story details about the intensity of the sound, the speed of the cars, and the size of the track.
Although I enjoyed the time I volunteered during the races, nothing validated all the time and effort I’d put into the research more than statements in reviews for Peril such as, “She…knows her way around the racetrack” and “I also enjoyed the realistic feel that she gave to the Nascar races.” In the novel, my character, Stuart—a NASCAR champion—says, “…there’s nothing like watching a race live.” And when it comes to writing, there’s nothing like experiencing the setting yourself to add the touches of authenticity that will make it real to readers as well.
Suzanne is the author of the Fast Track Thriller series, Christian suspense novels with a twist and turns at the speed of NASCAR. The first two, Peril and Conspiracy, are currently available in both print and Kindle versions, and she is finishing up the manuscript for Revenge.
On the editorial side, Suzanne is the Editorial Director here at Castle Gate Press. Her blog offers a plethora of writing advice on her blog Write This Way, which she has compiled into a book, which is available on her blog.
When not writing, editing, or homeschooling, she enjoys scrapbooking, Bible study, and scouring local library sales. She loves to answer questions from new authors and hear from her fans, so stop by her Facebook Page and say hello.