Making Time to Write Monday: Research Trip

The protagonist in my young adult novel is from Emerald Isle, North Carolina though very little of the book actually takes place there. I’ve been working on this book for awhile (gulp, years). I’ve tried on a few occasions to make a research trip to Emerald Isle. I did a lot of research online before I went and while I was writing the book, but there are some things that can’t be captured via Internet.

Like this foam from the ocean that looked like snow….

2009-07-06 01.30.30

Emerald Isle Beach
Copyright 2012, Marcie Flinchum Atkins


Like this bike trail that I’m sure my protagonist would run on…

Emerald Isle Bike Trail, Copyright 2012 Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Emerald Isle Bike Trail,
Copyright 2012 Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Or the way a cold sunset feels…

Emerald Isle Sunset, Copyright 2012 Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Emerald Isle Sunset,
Copyright 2012 Marcie Flinchum Atkins

I spent all of high school living at a beach–in the tropics in Southeast Asia, but it’s a very different experience being at a North Carolina beach in December. While I’m sorry that I waited so long to take this trip, I knew what types of details I needed to revise since I was so far into the book. I didn’t write very much while I was there, but I walked several miles a day, took hundreds of pictures, and soaked up as many sensory details as I could. And I can’t wait to go back in a warmer season.

And I’ll tell you a little secret:

The first person I met in Emerald Isle had the same name as my protagonist’s mother in my book.

And I wrote that character into the book a couple of years before I ever set foot on Emerald Isle. How’s that for serendipity?


  1. Sylvia Bailey says:

    That’s really cool. Any beach in North Carolina is wonderful, and I’m glad you went to get a feel for the place. So many of Nicholas Sparks novels are set at some beach in NC.

    Glad the book is progressing–I can’t wait to read it.


  2. What a great idea. I think it is great that you experienced Emerald Isle in the winter, because that can give you a different twist from the more standard summer beach experience. I totally believe meeting the woman that shares the name of the mom in your book is a definite sign.


  1. […] Last week I shared a few pictures from my research trip to Emerald Isle, NC. I spent several days there gathering a few details for my young adult novel. […]