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Researching – The Backbone of any Novel

When the concept of writing my fourth novel teaming up my protagonists, Jonas Peters and Frank Sanders (their first book together), I knew there would have to be deep research to ensure the readers would believe the words I put down onto the paper. There was no chance I was to spend a year or more writing a tale involving these two fine gentlemen without the diligence of powerful exploration and research.

That is the hallmark of any good writing. Without painstaking research a writer ends up with only a tale without merit. Fictional writing may be what wordsmith’s make out of their creative genius but good fiction must resemble non-fiction to the audience.

When I read a novel I want to be taken away from the present reality and thrust into a new reality. What I did not realize when the idea for ‘Iquitos – the Past Will Kill’ sprang into my head was that I would be spending a month in the darkness of the Peruvian rainforest.

But if the novel mentions the jungle then the writer must visit the jungle.

The forest comes alive at night and hunkered beneath mosquito netting swinging in the heavy moist air in a hammock one knows it is safer to be inside than outside. More than once each night something outside would let loose with a scream and suddenly nothing but silence invaded the air.

During the daylight all one did was sweat in the ninety percent humidity wishing for a breeze. This is a hostile environment and not meant for the faint of heart. Everywhere a person takes a step must be calculated so one doesn’t step onto or in front of something lurking in the canopy or the floor which could be live threatening.

The rainforest is a dangerous place to reside or visit.

On a previous trip to Peru, my spouse (Laureen) and I had made close friends with a naval commander who was able to set up the Amazon adventure including riding for hours in a fast boat. This navy small boat was capable of over sixty miles per hour on the wide and dark river and sported two fifty caliber machine guns. It was a fitting place for Jonas (who was the only character to venture into the Amazon) to hitch a ride and find out firsthand the magnitude of one of the largest rivers in the world.

Islands would appear out of nowhere – the shores teaming with life. Howler monkeys kept eyes on us as we swept by the land masses as well as Toucans and Macaws flying overhead. The skies were often covered with rain fat clouds ready to deluge us at any minute. Often without warning the sky would open up. Suddenly drenched and smiling we would understand the thrill of research – to be somewhere not expected and enjoying every minute of it.

A month on the trail with our good friend Paul Bakas (photographer for our blog – jandlresearchandexploration) we were satisfied with the research.

It takes a special type of person to make it day to day in the jungle. We made but with a guide, prepared food, and constant warnings of the dangers behind every bush. We were spoiled.

As Laureen stated as we headed back to the states; “That was the best trip I never want to repeat.”

‘Iquitos – the Past Will Kill’ is a novel based on a past event involving Jonas Peters in the wilds of Peru which brings that past rushing to the future with deadly results for those involved. It is a journey of discovery and sorrow for both Jonas Peters and Frank Sanders but the story must be told as all stories must.


This post is contributed as Guest post by John R. Beyer.


John R. Beyer is the author of four novels – his latest, ‘Iquitos, The Past Will Kill was released in November of 2018. He spent nearly ten years in law enforcement before moving to the educational world as a public school teacher and administrator. His passion for writing as earned him many accolades and recently the ‘Write Well Award’.
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