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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jolene Perry, THE SUMMER I FOUND YOU, & Research

This beauty released into the world yesterday. Not only is it my favorite cover of 2014, but on of my favorite 2014 reads as well. I was able to get an ARC through NetGalley. You can see my gushing review here. Since reading THE SUMMER I FOUND YOU, I've become a read-everything-Jolene-writes person. She was kind enough to come of the blog for her release week.

Take it away, Jolene:


When I started out writing The Summer I Found You, it was titled Used To Be - a pretty weak title, but it was my jumping off point.

Who did my characters used to be, who were they during the story, and who were they at the end of the story. All very, VERY, different people.

The idea of writing a returned soldier was intriguing, so the book really began with Aidan, but I needed someone who would understand him... And I found Kate.

Suddenly my sweet love story had turned into a mess of ideas involving a one-armed veteran and a girl with diabetes.

I have two arms.
I do not have diabetes.

I needed to research.
I know a LOT of people who went overseas in the military including cousins, my husband, high school friends, and kids I used to babysit. I wasn't starting from scratch--even though it felt like it a lot of the time.
One of my good high school friends learned she was diabetic after passing out in an assembly - that was my beginning point for Kate. I also used a writer friend of mine with diabetes, and she was SO SO helpful. 

But knowing a few people doesn't make enough research for a book.

I learned SO much more than one would ever guess after reading The Summer I Found You, and that's a good thing. Probably 95% of what I read didn't end up in the book in any way that a person would recognize. I think this is a good thing.

I spent hours on The Wounded Warrior Project. Found programs soldiers used. Read story after story after story of men and women who came home from war with missing limbs. What programs were out there to help them. Blogs of soldiers talking about what it was like to come home. Listened to my husband again on what it felt like to be home again. How he felt disjointed, out of place...

And Kate. that stubborn, stubborn girl. I knew how she would react to diabetes long before I learned anything about the disease. But I pretended I'd just been diagnosed when I researched. I poured over websites - American Diabetes Association. The Mayo Clinic. Support groups for family members and for people with new diagnosis.

For a while I woke up every morning glad I wasn't giving myself insulin shots. Glad I had both arms. That my husband came home safe.

But after all that research - my characters still did what they wanted to do - it's that I had enough information to put them in positions that were true to their situations.

Never. Ever. Underestimate the power of learning about the world you're placing your people into. It gave me ideas for plot points, which added tension, which increased Kate's understanding of Aidan, and his understanding of her, and things much bigger than both of them.

But - I'm a learner and a teacher at heart. Always will be. Hopefully as other people write, they'll find excitement and a new appreciation for their life as they research. And I know that when I read fiction dealing with things I don't understand well, it's a really, really fun way to learn...

Do you enjoy novels about situations outside of things you understand?
Just curious.
And if yes, I'd LOVE to hear what you all have been reading - especially if it gained you some greater appreciation of what you have.

Thanks so much for turning over your blog to me!!!

~ Jolene


  1. I'm not a fan of research but still do a lot of it for my books. It's totally worth it in the end, though. I'm curious...did you have soldiers or diabetics read the book when you were done to see if those details rang true?


  3. I love the learning that comes with the researching. It's all about growing while we write. Good for you and congratulations!

  4. I read Seasons by C.S. Ulyate. It made me appreciate more the fact that we need to take care of the environment and the importance of friends and family. Also I'm super glad pollution isn't alive or has special powers. Anyway research can definitely help better your work and you really took it all to task Jolene. Congrats on your new book.

  5. Jolene- sometimes I wonder if anyone looked into my searches and queries/research on my computer I've done for different characters (one was a creepy serial killer for a murder mystery) they would think that I'm the psycho, LOL.

    I believe research and first hand information is vital to bringing characters alive. The Wounded Warrior Project is a truly noble cause. It holds a special place in my heart. Big Congrats on your book release and best of luck.

  6. Thanks!! And HILARIOUS on the searching thing...