Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Behind the Books: Using Social Media for Research

From the moment I received the assignment my new book Hurricane Watch, I knew I wanted to take readers on a journey through the stages of hurricane formation and give them a front row seat to what happens when the super storm hits land. Because I’ve never experienced a hurricane, I needed to interview people who had.

How did I find those people? Twitter. 

Within minutes of posting a tweet, I had a half dozen responses from people who’d lived through hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Hawaii. We exchanged email addresses and over the next week, I collected their stories, looking for sensory details and other tidbits that could help me bring these powerful storms to life for young readers.

Here are a few excerpts from those interviews:

“Everything that wasn't nailed down blew away, including beach sand, gravel, tree limbs. Lawn furniture became projectiles.” 

“Even inside the house, [the blowing wind] was so loud we could hardly hear each other talk. It really roared.”

“The palm trees bent way over in the wind. The fronds dragged on the ground."

“The winds blew so hard that we could see all the coral reefs that were usually underwater.” 

“Projectiles kept hitting the house--whatever was loose.  The sky was gray and cloudy and the wind's sound was incredible. The whole house shook.” 

Pretty cool, right?

Ultimately, I didn’t have room for all these great details, but they definitely informed my writing. Thanks to these comments, the drama of the storm seems palpable in the final text.


  1. Great post, Melissa. I'll try using Twitter for research more often. It sounds like you had a whirlwind of success with it! [grin]

  2. Excellent example of research, Melissa. Sounds like such a great book.

  3. Thanks, Sally ad Kaye, I learned so much while writing this book.