Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of getting your facts right is brought to you by crime novelist Neil Yuzuk who brought us Getting it right (part 1) and Getting it right (part 2) in October and November respectively.
Getting It Right (part 3 of 3)
How to get your facts straight?
RESEARCH – PEOPLE – RESEARCH – PEOPLE – RESEARCH – PEOPLE
Here’s another way to get information—talk to people. They love to share information and I promise to use their names in the books—they love it and they’re a great resource.
I met “Phil the Armenian” when we were waiting to be served at the deli counter and we got to talking. Phil is a Teamster. In my third book, “Beachside PD: Undercover,” Danny is going undercover as truck driver. Phil offered to help me and I told him that I would write him in as a character in the book, as Phil “the Armenian” O’Brien (Armenian mother and Irish father)—He loved it.
I needed “behind the scenes” information on TV broadcasting, so I called a former student, Basche Warner, who works as a cameraman/producer and we met for pizza. He brought along a friend of his, Jack Shipley, who is also in the industry and they briefed me for two hours on procedures and equipment. I ended up using just a bit, but I have it if I ever need it. They’re in the book as a combined character, Basche Shipley.
We have all of these people in our lives and in exchange for using their names as characters, they are more than willing to help. And, if you don’t know a cop or a truck driver, ask your friends. Two fellow authors helped me and now I have a police secretary named Morgen Dingli in my books. Morgen did a beautiful podcast of a short story I wrote and Ms. Dingli has been generous with her writing advice.
In “Beachside PD: Undercover,” Danny was shot. I brought that chapter along on a physician visit. My Internist read it and suggested inserting a chest tube for Danny’s collapsed lung. For the description of Danny in his post-surgical ICU bed, I turned to another former student who is a Nurse Practitioner and she helped me brush up the scene.
People love to tell their stories. I just received an email from my son’s lieutenant that he has more cases for my next visit. In “The Gypsy Hunter” I gave a big plug to his wife’s charity, Bit-By-Bittherapy.com. It’s an organization that uses horses to help people with special needs; their “Horses For Heroes” is for military veterans & their families. I used it to rehab a Seminole coed whose sister was murdered.
I met author K.B. Schaller (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0TkzdG2bbI) on LinkedIn and she was very generous in helping me be accurate when it came to the Seminole Tribe and its culture. She’s also helped me create a Seminole thread in the new book. In return, my son David designed a video trailer for her.
We are and can be resources for each other, the key is to keep it within reason.
There are real cases in the news all the time—use them. Learn about forensics, it’s a great case solver, often in unique ways.
Use the real detective TV programs to inspire your stories. I said “inspire” and not “copy.” On one program, there was an interesting case that was solved by finding a wristwatch at the crime scene. I liked the concept and took it several steps further, so in the end, I had an important sequence of forensic evidence to solve the case.
A warning about forensics, they are fallible. So much depends on how it’s gathered and how it’s interpreted. For example, a man was arrested for an act of terrorism where hundreds were killed, because his fingerprint was found at the scene in Spain. However, he was five thousand miles away in Colorado when it happened . . . and, he’d never been to Spain—never, ever.
If you’re writing about Bobbies and Blaggers—talk to the constables you might encounter during your day. Stopped for speeding? Try, “Officer, I’m so glad you pulled me over. I’m writing a book about police procedures and I was wondering if you could take the time to give me some tips on what Road Patrol officers look for, and what are the proper stop procedures.”
If that doesn’t work, ask to be arrested so you can see the inside of the stationhouse and experience arrest procedures first hand.
If this has helped, then Bob’s your uncle. If I can ever be of help, please let me know.
Oh wow! I’m in a novel… I’m famous. 🙂 What can I say? (usually a lot)… thank you, Neil.
Neil L. Yuzuk (pictured right with son David) was born in Brooklyn, New York. Now retired after twenty-two years, as a SPARK Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor, he wrote Beachside PD: The Reluctant Knight, after collaborating with his police officer son on a screenplay of the same name. The book was a finalist in the Global eBook Awards in the category of suspense / thriller.
The second book in the series is Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter and third book is entitled Beachside PD: Undercover. He has also written a screenplay: Fade To Light. Another book, Zaragossa: Fruit of the Vine is in the works.
Neil and his co-author son David are the authors of the Beachside PD series and their website is http://www.BeachsidePDBooks.com. You can also watch their video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20e_i39GaQA and their print and eBooks are available at Amazon.com.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
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