Thursday, October 30, 2014


By Bonnie Doran

            Ada asked me to tell a little bit about my research for Dark Biology. Here goes:

Influenza: This was the disease I used in the novel. Much of my research came from The Great Influenza by John M. Barry, which described the so-called Spanish flu during World War I. In bopping around the internet, I found a reference to a strain that scientists discovered on a Canadian farm. This became the basis of my deadly virus.

Biosafety Level  4: You can’t waltz into the CDC’s lab where scientists study the deadliest diseases. Richard Preston, a journalist, did that and described his experience in Panic In Level 4. I based my scenes on his research. That’s way more research than I ever want to do.

Cruise Ship: I had been on three cruises at the time I wrote Dark Biology, so I used my own knowledge for the novel. I also emailed the cruise line for additional information. I learned that ships have sophisticated onboard medical facilities, a morgue, and a brig.

FBI: I didn’t know who would arrest the villain on a cruise ship in international waters. Someone I met at a writers’ meeting put me in touch with a former FBI agent. I emailed him with some questions. Among other things, he told me that the FBI works with the US Navy. The villain would probably be removed from the ship to a naval destroyer. That was a fun fact to use in the novel.

Red Tie: My pastor insisted he always wore a red tie, but he wouldn’t tell me why. I looked up “red tie” on the internet. It can represent sin, blood, and sex. For my character, it became a symbol of both his adultery (think The Scarlet Letter) but also Christ’s blood that covered it.

Defibrillator: I was embarrassed that my editor had to correct me on this one. Many television shows and movies get this wrong. Note to self: Don’t use media as a basis for research. My editor pointed me to a blog,, and a post entitled “If you shock a flatline, I swear I will come to your home and beat you with a wet chicken.” I rewrote the scene and it came out more suspenseful than my original version.  

Space: By far, the biggest challenge in my research for Dark Biology was finding information on the space program. Internet searches can only go so far. I needed an expert. Someone on ACFW’s email loop told me to contact Austin Boyd, a novelist and former astronaut candidate. He was kind enough to read through my manuscript and tell me the way NASA would handle situations.

Thanks for hosting me, Ada.


Blurb: Renowned vaccinologist "Hildi" Hildebrandt has set her sights on beating her brother to a Nobel Prize, and the opportunity to conduct experiments on the International Space Station might just provide the means to obtain that goal. Chet Hildebrandt should have had that opportunity. But now he'll teach a lesson to them all: his hot-shot astronaut sister, his philandering hypocritical father, and the CDC for not properly appreciating his work. One vial of a virus purloined from the CDC labs and released at his father's marriage seminar should do the trick, without hurting anybody. After all, it's only a mild influenza strain...Or is it?


Bonnie Doran’s heart is in science fiction. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and Sudoku puzzles. Her husband of thirty-one years is a Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet. They share their Colorado home with two Siamese cats. Her science thriller, Dark Biology, released October 25, 2013, from Harbourlight (Pelican Book Group).


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