When people ask me about the research involved in my thrillers, I usually focus on the really cool things I’ve done. My first experience was signing up for a Citizens Police Academy in my town where I participated in over 45 hours of presentations from key departmental supervisors, field trips to various law enforcement offices, a late night ride along with an on-duty officer, and I even had an amazing day at the firing range where we blew up stuff with the bomb squad, shot all sorts of weapons, and watched the K-9 unit go through its paces. I also met my first police technical advisor who helped me with police procedure and crime scene analysis for my first suspense book. And since he knew I wanted to use a flashbang grenade in my book, he set one off near me so I could “feel” it. (Only an author would think this is a good thing. And no, getting my hair blown back by a grenade is NOT the strangest thing I’ve ever done.)
Still solidly on the side of good things, I also have taken a tour of a state of the art crime lab. And last year, I visited Washington DC and toured the FBI at Quantico (where I shot weapons at the FBI firing range and heard a presentation by the only FBI Special Agent who interrogated Saddam Hussein before he was executed), the CIA at Langley, the US State Department and the US Postal Inspectors. Some very cool adventures.
But I’ve also done some peculiar things that I rarely talk about—until now.
My husband once found me stumbling around in a dark room—with the lights completely turned out—because I wanted to know what it would be like to move around with a hood over my head. One of my characters had a childhood tragedy that left him afraid of the dark. And his way of overcoming his weakness was to immerse himself in his fear and fight “sighted” attackers without the use of his eyes. He developed a 6th sense in the dark and I wanted to know if I could “feel” a wall before I ran into it. Most times, I could. Most times…
And one time, when I was stymied by my plot, I walked away from my computer to clear my head and found myself watching an old movie, Gleaming the Cube, a 1989 skateboarding flick with Christian Slater in it, when he was really, really young.
When my husband came home, he saw me sitting on the sofa in the middle of the day when I normally would be writing. He asked what I was doing—after seeing Christian Slater on the small screen—and I told him I was working. Yeah, right.
After he laughed–like he seriously didn’t believe me–I walked calmly into my office and outlined the rest of my novel. That book became my debut novel – NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM – and it sold in auction. I saw something in that silly movie that triggered the solution my brain had been searching for. The whole plot fell into place after that. Cool, huh?
The way I figure it, I owe everything to Christian Slater. I’m even considering putting together a research workshop on the Six Degrees of Christian Slater. I may have OTHER things that I’ve done that are so out there they may never see the light of day, but that’s for me to know, and you to find out.
So how far have you gone for research? Come on, it’s just the two of us. Tell me everything…