Saturday, October 6, 2012

And those FBI agents are such nice people...

One of the best things about writing fiction is doing research.

While gathering information for my current project I've been privileged to speak with several detectives, an assistant police chief, a former State Police officer, various gun enthusiasts, and the crime scene expert who had the sad distinction of working the Columbine shooting.

On a previous story I spent an hour over coffee with a kind lawyer who covered all the intricacies of a defamation lawsuit, and then helpfully suggested ways to paint someone in his estimable field as corrupt and evil.

Thanks to these folks I know more about blood spatter, fingerprints, and arrest warrants than I ever care to use. (Ditto on the lawsuits!)

I'm sure I'll get details wrong--and in some cases, might willfully ignore facts to juice up the story--but their patience and willingness to share knowledge leaves me deeply grateful.

If you're reticent about contacting experts for background information, I'd suggest starting with the organization that gave by far the most welcoming response: The FBI.

You think I'm kidding?

How's this for great customer service: My first call was answered by a real human--a special agent, I suppose--who apologized and said he wasn't able to answer my question, but connected me with someone who could. The next step was simple, and the person was professional, helpful, and extremely courteous. Two calls, I had what I needed.

Try that with your phone company!

Yes, I love being a writer. I love letting my mind wander to dark, creepy places; love imagining wild romance and danger from the comfort of my cozy study.

But it's also darned fun to start a dinner conversation with, "You know, those FBI agents are such nice people..."

Cheers...and Happy Writing!


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