Guest Kelly Jones

14 Dec

kelly-resized“Shoot from the rooftop,” my husband says, pointing to the Grand Hotel Praha, “and you can drop the Senator beneath the clock tower with a single shot.”

We’re in Prague and the square is bustling with noisy tourists, crammed beneath the astronomical clock in the Old Town Square, jostling for the best spots, waiting for the show to begin.  We blend in, completely unnoticed.  We could be plotting a real murder.

I raise my iPad, click on video, and do a 360 to get in the entire square.  A mime dressed all in white (hmmm . . . sometimes ideas just pop into the scene!), waves into the camera.  I’m aware now that people are watching, but I doubt they suspect I’m gathering information for a book.

Often I’m asked, “When you’re writing a novel, at what point do you visit the site?”  I’ve learned that it is best, at least for me, to wait until I’ve got a good first draft.  I’m not an outliner, so it’s important to be aware of the exact places I want to visit before setting out to explore.  I often discover aspects of a scene that are not at all what I’d imagined.  The Grand Hotel Praha, for instance, is not as grand as I’d expected.  I had the killer taking a shot from an upper floor but, as it turns out, the hotel is a mere three stories.  Even with the information available to writers online (including a web cam on the hotel’s website), I’d pictured it differently.

We visit a church on Karmelitska where the world-famous Infant of Prague resides.  I’m a little nervous when I realize we are sitting in full view of what may or may not be a surveillance camera as we whisper back and forth, attempting to determine if  climbing over the communion rail for a better view will, as the sign warns, really set off an alarm.

We spend the next several days roaming, crossing back and forth over the vendor-lined Charles Bridge, photographing the spires and towers of Prague, visiting the Letna Park, where a pivotal scene in my “work in progress” takes place.  We peer into shop windows and photograph myriad marionettes.  One or two of these will appear in the story, though I hadn’t realized there might be so many choices—witches, clowns, skeletons, mermaids, devils, angels, Charley Chaplin, Don Giovanni.

Another question I’m sometimes asked:  “If you are writing about real places and historical events, how obligated do you feel to stick to the facts and when do you fictionalize?”

I always attempt to get it right.  I stick with the facts, but use my novelist’s creative license with the unknowns.  When I wrote about the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries in Paris for my first novel, THE SEVENTH UNICORN, I was delighted to discover the designer of the tapestries remains unnamed.  When I wrote about Renaissance art in Florence for THE LOST MADONNA, I didn’t invent artists, but I did invent a painting lost in a flood.  Hanna, my fictitious character in THE WOMAN WHO HEARD COLOR, becomes involved in authentic historical events in pre-World War II Munich and Berlin.

Good fiction, I believe, will convince the reader it’s real. Authentic setting, even if the author invents it, is essential to a successful novel.  I enjoy writing stories set in real places and feel fortunate to be able to visit these cities.  I’d love to take you along on a journey to Prague.

“Like” Kelly Jones on facebook:

For more information, visit:


Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Guest Blog, research, writers, writing craft



10 responses to “Guest Kelly Jones

  1. Judith Keim

    December 14, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    Hi, Kelly! Love the way you do your research with interesting trips and a means to verify fact or slip in “authentic” fantasy to make your novels more real. Your books sound like must-reads. Thanks!

    • Kelly Jones

      December 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Judith, thank you for posting. I hope you will pick up one of my books. I ‘m very lucky to be able to travel for research and those trips are always the most fun. Sometimes they feel like treasure hunts where you are searching for clues or pieces to a puzzle.

  2. Janis McCurry

    December 14, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Kelly, I’m going on a trip to Ireland and Scotland in 2013 and I’ll probably be surprised as well that some of the things I thought were accurate are…not so much. The 3-story hotel thing would have given me a moment’s pause while I thought how to alter my scene for the shooting. It will be fun to read that scene now that I know “the rest of the story.”

    Thanks for guest blogging on Gem State Writers.

    • Kelly Jones

      December 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      A trip to Ireland and Scotland sounds wonderful! Everything in Ireland really is green, and I discovered why. Take your raincoat! Thank you for the invitation to blog.

  3. stephaniebergets

    December 14, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Kelly, I love the idea of you and your husband conspiring and maybe the authorities watching. Thanks for posting.

    • Kelly Jones

      December 15, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      Thanks for posting, Stephanie. This will be my first “murder” mystery and I’m surprised at how much fun this plotting is!

  4. Peggy Staggs

    December 16, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    Setting is everything. You can put a simple story in a wonderful setting and it takes on a life of its own.
    Thanks for blogging with us.

  5. Corina

    December 16, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Whoa. Your research trips sound amazing! I read The Seventh Unicorn years ago and loved it. Just looked up the The Lost Madonna and it sounds like just what I need to take me back to Florence, a city I’ll never get enough of no matter how many times I visit.

  6. maryvine

    December 17, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    How fun, Kelly. Sounds like you have a good friend in your husband, too. I traveled to NE Oregon for my research. 🙂 My three books take place there. Thanks for stopping by Gem State!

  7. Lynn Mapp

    December 17, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Details, details, details. You’re right. Research is one things, but being there adds another layer to the scene.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: