I don’t know what it is about me and cops, detectives, private eyes, lawyers, or could it be the entire judicial system, but no matter what I write, there is always, always, always, a crime, suspense, weapons, a moustache-twirling villain, and a dead body.
I’m not a cop who writes books. I’m a PR and marketing person, who writes. But PR divas, we don’t do. We strategize ways for our clients to influence human behavior – in other words we help our clients’ customers buy or think the way our clients want the public to buy or think (I love PR:).
So what does this mean to my storytelling? Lots of research, research, research.
I know. Research is required of any project you decide must be done, and that doesn’t only apply to writing a book. You routinely gather facts before diving into any pool blind. If you’re planning a special meal for the family or friends, or just for tonight’s dinner for the hubby and the kids, what do you do? Research. Gather your materials, and you deliver a meal. Many of us cooks will readily admit that FoodNetwork.com is our best friend, except for you foodies. You are like lawyers or doctors or cops writing books about lawyers or doctors or cops. You have the expertise right there in front of you and I’m just…well, jealous.
Okay, baby rant over.
Well, if one of those dishes you decided to cook was an exotic African dish, made of goat and curry spices and something you’ve never considered eating before (like goat, which I love). Would you try and make it? Or would you leave that delicious dish a fanciful thought never acted upon?
So that’s why I do research. I can’t shove a story aside just because I don’t know anything about being a cop (and having dated a cop doesn’t count…well, maybe it doesn’t count for the cop scenes…hehehe:).
But how far will I go to learn? Would you travel to Nairobi, Kenya (if money and time weren’t a factor) to meet with the chef at the Tamambo Karen Blixen Coffee Garden to discuss how to make the special of the day for dinner that night?
Well, I’m willing to go pretty far for my books, I think. So, I’ve actually acted upon one of my New Year’s resolutions – I’ve signed up to do a Ride-Along with the local Metro Police in Washington, D.C. Yep. I’m going to do it. Right? Sound fun?
But just in case you are more Food Network.com than classes at the Culinary Institute or stalking Bobby Flay, here are some of my favorite legal links that help make my justice system characters come to life:
Police Ride Along Program (in every major city btw)
And of course a member of Washington Romance Writers (WRW-DC), Author Allison Leotta (Books: Law of Attraction and Discretion) has a website ranked among the top in the nation called The Prime Time Crime Review, an excellent source of information where a lot of lawyers hang out and chat, too. (PS, Allison will conduct a workshop for WRW-DC on February 9 all about writing and research and she’ll have special guests from the world of justice, too).
Anyway, what research tips (or recipes) are you willing to share?
Happy New Year!