Thursday, July 15, 2010

Research Log: Rio de Janeiro

I had a lot of fun researching my romantic suspense, Denied Origin, the main reason being that I got to learn a lot of useless information about places I'd never been - the first of which was Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where heroine, Valentina Tuttora lives. In a matter of days, she and hero, Mark Welles, are swept across the globe on a scavenger hunt for clues to her real identity with a deadly terrorist stalking them every inch of the way. I needed a strong launching point, geographically, for this story and Rio de Janeiro turned out to be the perfect place!

Here's a glimpse through Mark's eyes....

Mark Welles arrived at Rio de Janeiro’s International Airport on a friend’s private jet at ten-thirty that bright Sunday morning. As he stepped out, he had to blink under the blinding rays of the sunlight. He took his sunglasses out of his shirt pocket and put them on, scanning the signs taxi drivers held up in search of his own name.

The taxi drove him from the airport into the bustling, crowded streets of the Brazilian city. As they drove through the working class suburbs, the threads of his memory began to spin together. He had been gifted with a vivid memory and then had been trained to sharpen it, whittle it until it was a fine, keen blade all its own. But being here—seeing it all again—made him remember everything.

He sat back in his seat as a ping of pain lanced through him. He exhaled sharply through his nostrils as he turned away from the streets which led the taxi into the south side neighborhood where glitzy houses stood to face the stunning, blue sea.

Now he remembered why he’d never come back here. It was too painful, unbearably so—just as he’d feared it would be.

The taxi reached his hotel on the beach close to an hour after his plane touched down. He checked in and went up to his beach-front room. The single bed was made and the sheets underneath the coverlet were fresh. The room smelled of salt and soap.

He set his bag aside and went to the glass doors which led out onto a small, square balcony. He looked down at Copacabana Beach and studied the beach crowd—the sunbathers, the kids playing in the surf, the active playing beach soccer or volleyball.

He turned away and went back to his bag. He unzipped the front pouch and shuffled through the clothes until he found his gun. He took it out, laid it on the bed along with his knife and holster. He propped his foot on the bed and pulled up his pant leg. He strapped the holster around his calf and sheathed the gun into place.

He tucked the knife readily into his pocket. He went to the door, stuffing his room key in his right back pocket.

It was time to retrace his steps.

It was time to go to work.

Denied Origin © Amber Leigh Williams

First, some general facts about Rio. The city itself was founded in 1565 and is home to over six million people, most of whom are Catholic and speak Portuguese. The handiest Rio factoid that fit well into Denied Origin's storyline is the high crime rate. In 2007, there was an average of 30 homicides victims per week, most of which were a result of mugging, stray bullets, and narcoterrorism. Rio is ranked 206 of the most violent cities in Brazil (5565 total). The city is like a comic book metropolis with urban warfare a daily (or nightly) reality between drug lords, outlaws, and police.

The climate of Rio is tropical, due to its location near the equator and on the Atlantic Ocean, but because of cold fronts from Antartica, weather changes are frequent. In the summer, flooding and landslides are common. In industrial production, Rio is ranked 2nd nationally and it is the 2nd richest city in Brazil. Most interesting of all, Rio is the cultural and tourist capital of Brazil. And with nearly 50 miles of beachland, including the famous Copacabana, is it really any wonder? Dance, sports, yachting and martial arts are all very popular. For rock climber, Rio is a haven as it is surrounded by hills and beautiful mountains. Corcovado Mountain is home to the breathtaking Christ the Redeemer statue. Sugarloaf Mountain rising above the harbor is so named because its resemblence to the traditional shape of loaf sugar.

Rio is known worldwide for its Carnival, created with a masked ball in 1840. To this day, parades and civilians in ornate costumes celebrate Brazilian music and the last days of Lent. Millions of people travel to Rio for its New Years festivities, including spectacular fireworks display - one of the largest in the world - over Copacabana Beach.
To learn more about Denied Origin, visit The Wild Rose Press! It is available now paperback and ebook. Writers & Readers of Distinctive Fiction praises this romantic suspense...

In Denied Origin, Amber Leigh Williams spins a nice tale of suspense, during which the reader is taken on a journey around the world in several days. This is a fast-paced story that keeps the reader on the edge of the seat and guessing. The action and sexual tension keep the reader wondering, waiting, and wanting more. Characters are engaging and smart, and if you like to try to figure out a mystery, this is a great challenge and addition to your to buy list. There are a couple of gripping plot twists that’ll surprise you, but they make perfect sense in the end, once a series of astounding secrets are revealed. I can only imagine Amber Williams will get better and better and be well read. Her creativity is obvious with this appropriately-named, highly-charged, danger-filled setting and story. Watch for her future works. She’s an amazing writer. No doubt about it.

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