Deborah Cloyed Guest post

With both the history and the quantum physics in The Summer We Came to Life, people ask me about the extent of research that went into the book. 


For The Summer That Came to Life, about one third of the time it took to write the book (six months) was research.  The morning till night kind of research – at the library, online, or interviewing people. 

I’d been living abroad for well over a year, in Honduras and Kenya.  When I returned, I plopped down in my childhood home and set to write.  The characters and storylines had long been bouncing around in my head:

1.  Jesse - a supermodel who marries a corrupt Latin business man
2.  Lynette and Cornell - an interracial couple during Civil Rights in my hometown in Virginia
3.  Arshan – a man who loses everything in the Iranian Revolution. 

Each of the parents’ stories required different kinds of research. 

For Jesse, I was able to draw on personal experiences living abroad in Latin American countries, and ask my friends about their opinions and stories.  Then I did heavy research on the specifics of Panama’s history at that time – personal accounts, books, etc. 

For Lynette and Cornell, I started off strolling through the port town of Occoquan, Virginia, once a thriving African-American community.  I visited museum exhibitions and talked to residents.  I spoke to family friends about their experience of Civil Rights, and was lucky enough to meet Joyce Russell Terrell, a local author, who shared her experiences with me.  Eventually, I realized I had never asked my parents about racism or their school experiences during the era.  This became a theme in the book – the meeting of the generations, and the importance of asking our loved ones about their personal view of history.

For Arshan, I had to rely mostly on books (fiction and non-fiction and biographies) and magazines.  His research took the longest, as I spent hours and hours and days striving to understand what it must have been like.  I also was lucky to find videos and accounts on YouTube about Black Friday, and documentaries on Iran to give me a sense of the place.


Physics is a long-standing hobby of sorts of mine.  I make it a point to stay up to date on all the Science journals and current literature, written for laymen by authors like Brian Greene, Stephan Hawking, Lisa Randall.  I have always loved the ideas of physics, long before they were translated into current New Age books and movies, but I love those, two!  The big ideas – the most basic building blocks of nature (strings? membranes?  holograms?), the power of the mind, multiple universes, time travel, quantum computing, dark matter and energy, black holes – they tap into some childlike side of me that is both awestruck and giddy in excitement.  Reading about modern science discoveries, it’s like glimpsing something completely mind-blowing and unimaginable, but also something you knew and just forgot.  Do you know the feeling I mean? 
So, for the novel, I was delighted to scour books and journals and websites, tackling the age old battle between science and religion, asking the one question scientists and writers have very much in common:  What if?


In short, I love research.  It’s a favorite part of writing for me.  I love when the notions you have in your mind are verified or reversed by what you find out. 

I’d love to hear what you think about the history or the science in The Summer We Came to Life.

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To learn more about the book or get your copy, visit your local bookstore or find on Amazon, B&N, Borders, or Indiebound.