Tomorrow is an exciting day! THE LAST SECOND, the sixth book in the A Brit In The FBI series, releases and so does the mass market paperback of THE SIXTH DAY. To celebrate, here’s a look at what went into the research for THE SIXTH DAY.
Let’s talk about building a book. The research that went into THE SIXTH DAY was astounding.
For me, writing an international thriller with historical components is sort of like making French onion soup out of apples — in other words, an uphill battle. Or magic. I like the magic analogy better, let’s go with that.
Even though I’m not doing it alone, this magic gets its essence from the minute details. Elizabeth George just did an interview in which she described the moment a piece of her latest book came together for her:
“Seeing the place is really helpful in developing the plot, because if I don’t go, there are things I simply won’t know,” she explains. “For example, for the new book I went to Ludlow, and when I visited the police station, it was closed. There was an intercom and video-camera setup at the building which connected people with the police and emergency services. That became a hugely important plot point in the book.”
For me, physical proximity is the secret behind good research. You can study everything, read all the books, read all the articles, but if you can actually go to the spot you’re writing about, plot points can appear out of the ether. I can give you oodles of moments this has happened to me, book after book. Heck, a trip to Scotland saved WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE — I had the winter colors all wrong. Trees, grass, flowers, skies… How embarrassing would that have been?
I know travel isn’t always possible, so at the very least, a few hours spent on Google Earth will go a long way. You won’t get all five senses (and trust me, how someplace smells creates all kinds of interesting ideas), but you’ll at least see what people wear, what it looks like when it rains, etc.
And the facts you see in the novel are fractional compared to the work done on the back end. There’s a reason we call research an iceberg, after all. You only see the tip. I’ve literally spent days on certain topics in order to put one single fact into the manuscript. I like to joke I get a Ph.D. on every book, but it really is true.
I have a somewhat organized way of researching my novels.
If I’m working on research online, as I’m going deep into a topic, any link that I touch that has any sort of relevance to the book immediately gets bookmarked. If I know it’s relevant, it goes into its own folder in Evernote. If it’s possibly relevant, it goes to Instapaper, and then gets shuttled into Evernote if I find anything worthwhile. I also sign up for newsletters, subscribe to online magazines, join Facebook groups. Anything that will allow me hands-on experience with the people who actually do the work or live in the world I’m researching. (Dark Web for hacking info, anyone? 😈)
Once the research is conducted, I usually print it out and put it in a huge Circa binder.That way, if the internet crashes, I have my research. And of course, let’s not forget the books — easy to work with there, just slap a Post-it note and write it up in my notebook. Same for movies and television shows related to the story. I have two massive bookshelves in my office that cover everything from the occult to FBI to falconry. I call it the database.
For THE SIXTH DAY, I have over 200 individual links in my Evernote. From hacking to falcons to the Voynich to hemophilia to LSD, they are a roadmap of memories to building a book. I love that record, too. It’s as evocative as a playlist for me. I can remember the exact moment I saw a certain story and what idea it triggered — and often, I make a note about that in my files, for posterity.
Hopefully, I get it all right. But as huge as these novels are, sometimes I blow it. A fact gets reversed, or the source material is incorrect, or I just plain read and interpret wrong. Hopefully, those mistakes are minimal. Because ugh! Fingers crossed it’s all perfect in this one.
I hope you enjoy all the crazy research that went into THE SIXTH DAY. Catherine and I had a blast with it.
Get the Mass Market Paperback—On Sale March 26
Catch up with the whole series!
From Catherine Coulter, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the FBI Thriller series, and J.T. Ellison, bestselling author and ITW Award winner, comes the first book in a brilliant new international thriller series featuring a new hero: American-born, UK-raised Nicholas Drummond.
Scotland Yard’s new chief inspector Nicholas Drummond is on the first flight to New York when he learns his colleague, Elaine York, the “minder” of the Crown Jewels for the “Jewel of the Lion” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was found murdered. Then the centerpiece of the exhibit, the infamous Koh-i-Noor Diamond, is stolen from the Queen Mother’s crown. Drummond, American-born but raised in the UK, is a dark, dangerous, fast-rising star in the Yard who never backs down. And this case is no exception.
Special Agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich from Coulter’s bestselling FBI series don’t hesitate to help Drummond find the cunning international thief known as the Fox. Nonstop action and high stakes intensify as the chase gets deadly. The Fox will stop at nothing to deliver the Koh-i-Noor to the man who believes in its deadly prophecy. Nicholas Drummond, along with his partner, FBI Special Agent Mike Caine, lay it on the line to retrieve the diamond for Queen and country.
Freshly minted FBI agent Nicholas Drummond is barely out of his Quantico training when he and his partner, Mike Caine, are called to investigate a stabbing on Wall Street.
Their investigation, however, yields more questions than answers. It quickly becomes clear that the victim, John Pearce, was more than the naval historian and antiquities dealer he appeared to be. What Drummond doesn’t know is that buying and selling rare books was Pearce’s cover, and that he had devoted his life to discovering the whereabouts of a missing World War I U-boat concealing a stash of gold bullion, and an unexpected surprise that only raises more questions. When Drummond and Caine find both of Pearce’s adult children have disappeared, the case assumes a new sense of urgency. The FBI agents know their best lead lies in the victim’s cryptic final words—“The key is in the lock.” But what key? What lock?
The search for Adam and Sophia Pearce takes them on an international manhunt, which threatens to run them afoul of an eccentric billionaire industrialist with his own plans not only for the lost gold, but the creation of a weapon unlike anything the world has ever seen.
FBI agent Nicholas Drummond and his partner, Mike Caine, are deep into an investigation of COE—Celebrants of the Earth—a violent group known for widespread bombings of power grids and oil refineries across the country.
While investigating a tip from a civilian who’s overheard about a possible bombing plot, the Bayway Refinery in New Jersey explodes. Nicholas and Mike race to the scene and barely escape being killed by a secondary device.
Returning to the civilian’s home to continue their interrogation, they discover the tipster—and the FBI team left to guard him—dead. While Nicholas calls in the assassinations, COE strikes again, this time launching a cyber-attack on several major oil companies and draining their financial and intellectual assets.
But COE has been infiltrated by a deep-cover counterterrorism agent named Vanessa Grace. A bomb-making expert, Vanessa must leave COE and join forces with Nicholas and Mike to stop the organization’s devious plan to assassinate the President. But there’s an assassin on the loose who could tip the scales in COE’s favor, and no one knows his ultimate target, or who has contracted his services.
Working with the CIA, the Secret Service, Mossad, MI-5, and even Savich and Sherlock, Nicholas and his team put their lives on the line to prevent another conflagration—and save the President.
FBI Special Agents Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine are the government’s Covert Eyes—leading a top-notch handpicked team of agents to tackle crimes and criminals both international and deadly. But their first case threatens their fledgling team when the Fox calls from Venice asking for help.
Kitsune has stolen an incredible artifact from the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, and now the client wants her dead. She has a warning for Nick and Mike: she’s overheard talk that a devastating Gobi desert sandstorm that’s killed thousands in Beijing isn’t a natural phenomenon, rather is produced by man. The Covert Eyes team heads to Venice, Italy, to find out the truth.
From New York to Venice and from Rome to the Bermuda Triangle, Nicholas and Mike and their team are in a race against time, and nature herself, to stop an obsessed family from devastating Washington, D.C.