Last month I went to Pensacola, Florida with my friend Gail to attend Island Fights 33, an event with both boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) matches.
Roy Jones, Jr. was the headliner – or, as it’s more accurate to say, he was at the top of the card. He’s an astonishing 46 years old and still at it. He’s the only boxer in history to start his career as a light middleweight (147-154 lbs) and go on to win a heavyweight (200+ lbs) title.
According to the Pensacola New Journal of 3/29/2015, Jones is now fighting as a cruiserweight. Cruiserweight is the class between light heavyweight (165-178 lbs) and heavyweight. So, for cruiserweight 200 lbs is the max.
Jones is not just in terrific boxing shape, he’s in extraordinary boxing shape. The arena was filled with his fans. I didn’t go as a fan. I went to do research. I had a great time. Oh, and I love my job. How much fun is it learning about boxing weight classes and setting scenes in boxing rings and MMA octagons!
I began my creative fiction writing life as a historical romance writer. Romance writers who are drawn to historicals usually come by their taste honestly: we love to do research. We find libraries and dusty old tomes open on to great adventures.
(See my blog post ‘How I Create Historical Atmosphere’ for more on that.)
Somewhere along the way I discovered the library is not the only place to do research. There’s whole worlds out there to discover and explore. The more I began to travel internationally, the more my paranormal Time Slip series took shape.
Paris of the late 19th century and the present is brought to life in The Blue Hour (affiliate). Bucharest, Romania of the present and Hong Kong of the late 19th century and present animate The Crimson Hour (affiliate). London and Rio de Janeiro of the early 20th century and the present are featured in The Emerald Hour (affiliate).
I want my readers to have a sense they’ve been to these places. The settings are backgrounds, however. The romance is always in the foreground.
Now to MMA. It’s another whole world in and of itself. I’ve read into it, but there comes a moment when the writer knows she has to experience that world. So I went to Pensacola to soak up the atmosphere for my most recent romance Knocked Out (which will be released in September, 2015).
The story is set in Vietnam. The heroine, Brisa, is an MMA fighter from LA. She’s able to note the contrasts with the burgeoning MMA scene in Saigon compared with that of the US.
In the US the pre-tournament arena thumps with grunge rock music. Each fighter gets to choose his intro song, and he comes out from behind the curtain with lights flashing and jets of smoke.
Behind him are his crew: his corner man, cut man, trainer, girlfriend, whoever. One of them may be carrying a banner with the fighter’s nickname.
In the event I saw, each match was 5 rounds of maximum 5 minutes each, with a minute in between. During that minute of downtime the card girl, aka ring girl, strutted around the ring holding up a card with the number of the round. There were two at my event. They looked to be about 20 years old, and they were essentially naked. Yes, they wore sparkly patches in a few places, but those embellishments only emphasized their nakedness.
If you want to see the current women’s bantamweight (135 lbs) champion in action, find any YouTube video of Ronda Rousey. She also has comments to make about the pay of these ring girls.
If you want to see how I interpret all of this in a setting in Vietnam, then please do read Knocked Out, the third and final story in my Forest Breeze Series. (I’ll be sending out notifications to my newsletter list when it is released, so please sign up there if you are interested in staying in touch.)
The second book in the Forest Breeze Series, Captured (affiliate), is motorcycle club inspired. I did my due diligence in 2014 when I was writing it by going to Daytona Bike Week. I followed up by going to biker bars in the area and interviewing bikers.
The first book in the series, Tied Up (affiliate), is BDSM inspired. I’ll leave it to the reader’s best guess whether or not I went to do research at a BDSM club.
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen