Monday, October 20, 2014

Truth or Dare?

How far do writers go for their book research?

Some authors have a wild imagination. Others go a step further and try some of the crazy stuff their heroes have to go through. What? You haven't tried bungee jumping using a rope made out of spandex tights? How do you expect your protagonist to do it, then?

For my first finished novel, The Day I Became a $py, which is set on Wall Street, I befriended a banker. And he wasn't one of those studious, nerdy types who subsist solely on caffeine (you didn't think the brown magic was for writers only, did you?) and walks around like a zombie, thinking about a new form of derivatives. No, he had his own dark secret. A tattoo. It's a moot point that he used to hide it, and button his shirts all the way even in summers. Everybody knew it was there. He was real bad-ass, and I loved how nicely he'd be later portrayed in a few of my finished novels--he had that many interesting facets. 

Recently, I asked my fellow writers about some of the craziest things they've done for their research. Here are some of the more interesting ones. 

There are writers who type away in the nude (now we know why you're closing your blinds in the middle of a day, ‪Kristal McKerrington), whereas others use 3D programs to reconstruct a scene and visualize how things would unroll (introducing the one and only, Camilla Monk, everyone). 

And don't forget the hardship of it all, checking out sexy firefighters. All for the sake of a novel, of course, as Lyssa Layne will attest. 

Then, there are those who spend twenty minutes staring at Google's pictures of broken fingers to describe it as disgustingly as possible (thanks for the visual, Bobby Johnson) and then enlist their wives to act out fight scenes (Bobby, your wife and I have to have a serious talk). 

And--close your eyes, Facebook police!--those who outright break the social networking laws, creating undercover Facebook accounts and going (perhaps a bit too far) with their 'fake' identities (‪Haydn Grey)

My friend Melissa Huie has done it all. Review by a former FBI and current LEO to make sure her procedures are realistic? Check. Talked to former hookers about their experiences? Check. Going to a strip club? Ahem, check. And no, Melissa, I doubt IRS would accept your research expenses as tax deductible. 

Be careful when you're around writers. You never know how and when they will use you for their musings, villain inspiration, or force you to become a body double in a martial arts scene reenactment.