Researching in Miami

 By Kathryn Lane

I place my novels in countries where I traveled during my corporate job. Miami is a city where I attended many
regional conferences. I also passed through the international airport innumerable
times coming from or going to Latin America and the Caribbean. Yet I only saw the city from airline windows as we approached the airport, through taxi windows as we drove to hotel conferences, or from hotel rooms for the couple of days I would attend meetings.  

Now I’m setting a novel in Miami. It’s
the perfect excuse to do on-site research and get to know the city. I’d planned this trip last year and then
Covid hit, so I put my novel on hold. Now I’m here in a wonderfully hospitable city. I love that Spanish is spoken everywhere. A diverse city, Miami is a melting pot of people from Latin
America and the Caribbean. And yet
there are immigrants representing every
country in the world. Tourists from around the globe flock here, too.

My novel starts in Miami and takes my
protagonist, Nikki Garcia, to Cuba. Of course, I do online research before I
travel. Online experiences do not provide the “feel” of a place, the culture,
the food, or the special little bits of information I like to add to my novels.

My husband is a wonderful travel
companion on research trips. He’s a great sport when I ask him to
explore areas he might not be interested in seeing. Over the time I’ve been an
author, we’ve encountered surprises, whether it’s walking the old neighborhoods
of Barcelona to locate a mosque as in a previous trip, or to explore a section of
the Everglades, like on this trip. Or finding a Cuban restaurant in Little
Havana in Miami, walking in, and discovering it served Spanish food, not Cuban.
What the heck, we were there so we ate seafood paella.

When I’m performing on-site research, I
like to put myself into Nikki’s shoes. How would she react to living in a condo
in Miami Beach? Eating at Little Havana? Interviewing security guards in Doral?
Would she shop for fresh lychee fruit and orchids in the Redlands agricultural
area on the west side of the city? Should she discover a corpse in the Everglades
or in a canal on Cutler Bay? Would she visit the Deering Estate and Key

Bob and I follow the outline of the places I
want to investigate. Doing this work makes me feel like a location scout for a
big production company. Of course, this is only one part of my research. And
it’s definitely the most fun!

After indulging in food, music, and
culture, then reality sets in and I have to actually write the story!


What kind of research do you do? Do
you enjoy researching various topics for your novels? Ever done on-site research?

Visit me at I love
hearing from readers. Ask a question, suggest an idea, or comment about the blog.

Kathryn Lane started
out as a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public
accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major
multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to
plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn
draws deeply from her Mexican background as well
as her travels in over ninety countries.

Nikki Garcia Mystery Series: eBook Trilogy


All photographs are used in an editorial or educational manner.

The Grounds at Deering Estate, Lily Pads in the Everglades, and Server Showing Paella are photos by Kathryn Lane


11 replies
  1. Debra H. Goldstein
    Debra H. Goldstein says:

    What fun! Bob's a good sport, but I bet he enjoys some of these unplanned excursions, too. When it comes to researching my Sarah Blair books, I created a woman who enjoys eating good food that she can't possibly prepare herself — so I research by eating at some of the finest restaurants, as well as quite a few dives, that I can find. Looking forward to the next Nikki Garcia mystery.

    • Kathryn Lane
      Kathryn Lane says:

      Debra, eating at fine restaurants is always on my research agenda too! And it's one of the most pleasurable items. I also cover a few dives, and in Miami both ends of the culinary spectrum are great. Bob and I laugh at some of the unexpected stuff that happens!

  2. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    Kathryn! What a great blog. Passing through in an airport does not mean you've "Been there" if you catch my drift. I have a good friend who worked as an attorney in Miami if you need a contact. I have family all over Florida, and have a character who's been transferred there in book three as an FBI agent. Needless to say you are not alone in having to research. What a great husband you have 🙂

    • Kathryn Lane
      Kathryn Lane says:

      Donnell, I agree that passing through an airport does not count as "being there". I appreciate the offer of contacts. As I get further into the novel, I may ask you to put me in contact with someone in Miami. My husband is incredibly supportive!

  3. Saralyn
    Saralyn says:

    I agree that setting research must be done on-site, if you want to capture the nuances and smells and flavors. Enjoy your excursion. After the pandemic, it must be exhilarating!

    • Kathryn Lane
      Kathryn Lane says:

      Saralyn, exhilarating is the word! It was wonderful to travel again! On the way to Miami, we visited family and friends that we had not seen since before the pandemic. We drove, covering 4,800 miles in three weeks!

  4. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    Since my series is set close to home, most of my exploring is local. Maybe someday I'll write a book that requires travel. In the meantime, Kathryn, have a fun and safe trip!

    • Kathryn Lane
      Kathryn Lane says:

      Gay, I've been toying with placing novels closer to home, but I love to travel so I'll probably wait a few years before I settle for closer to home. But in the end, it's all about the writing!!

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