Stuff readers ask me: Do you have to do research for your books?

Oh, my gosh. Research.

Yeah. When you’re writing primarily about outlaw motorcycle clubs, drug and gun running, people getting shot, and stuff like that — well, unless you’ve had a very eventful life, you’re gonna have to do some research.

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I came across this shirt a while ago, and boy oh boy, is it accurate. During the writing of any given book, there is always at least one moment where I type something into Google, and think, “I wonder if I’m on any FBI watch lists yet? Because if not, this will probably do it.”

I’ve researched how to sabotage someone’s car without anyone being able to figure it out. I’ve looked up how to poison someone in a way that’s untraceable. I’ve looked into what the effects of gunshot wounds are to various parts of the body, how to make bombs with materials easily found in the average household… you name it. And I know I’m not alone among authors in this. I mean, they didn’t make this T-shirt just for me, right?

I’ve also had to research what life is like in polygamous religious cults, the daily work life of a physical therapist, what happens at football spring training, and what it’s like to bungee jump for the first time. Sometimes, I’m lucky, and have someone in my life who knows about this kind of stuff. Or, failing that, someone who knows someone who knows about this kind of stuff. That’s always great, and I’m always super appreciative of how generous people are with their expertise and how willing they are to help. Other times, I have to stop writing mid-book and spend some time going down search engine rabbit holes, until I feel comfortable enough to keep going. Then, of course, I have to cross my fingers that I haven’t screwed something up really badly. It hasn’t happened yet. Cross your fingers for me, would ya? 🙂

But, as scary as writing about stuff that I don’t know about from personal experience can be, it’s still one of my favorite parts of being an author. I love learning about things. So the time I spend asking experts or doing research is actually really fun for me. It’s a way to “live” more than just my one life, to have to create characters with different life experiences and knowledge than me.

Sort of like reading, right?

“I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place.” – Anne Tyler

 

 


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