I am getting excited about this coming Thursday. I head out to Greensboro for the Writer’s Police Academy. I signed up for the event in the beginning of the year and it’s finally here. They warned it would sell out fast and they weren’t kidding, it sold out in less than a week! But, I was ready and got registered. I learned three other women I know will be going and I look forward to seeing them too!
I met several people at RWA13 who had gone to the Writer’s Police Academy and were still excited about it. One woman asked if I had signed up for ride-alongs, jail tours, driving class or FATs. I had put my name into the raffle for the ride along, jail tour and FATs but only got FATs, which is okay. I used to shoot match 22’s in the Marines, so I am looking forward to shooting in the digital range. The woman who had asked told me she did FATs too, she laughed and said it wasn’t easy, ‘she shot the librarian’ –oh, oh! I hope I don’t shoot the librarian, I can’t even do Wii Boxing without apologizing every time I hit the coach.
Besides FATs, I signed up for house searches, which I hope doesn’t include bugs and spiders. I have this theory that if a police officer opens a cupboard and sees a big-ass spider sitting in the corner… he’s not going to check to see if there is a false back inside the cupboard. And if the spider is plastic, we have a very clever criminal! So, I hope the house search does not include anyplace with bugs. I try but I can’t seem to get over the fact, they give me the willies.
So, while I am eager for the experiences but not to crazy about getting it exactly right in my writing. This probably stems from doing virology and molecular biology for 15 years. People’s eyes glaze over when you even mention synthesizing Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and why a certain actor athlete got away with murdering his wife. I watched the lawyers bungle the evidence. So, how do you write crime, murder people and catch enemy spies without sounding like a textbook?
I tend to take the same attitude Nora Roberts has about the details. When asked if she did a lot of research, she said “No!” –she is happy with plausible over factual. That sounds great and makes a nice sound bite but it’s not as easy as it sounds. My espionage book raised one question, over and over by editors and agents: “How do you deal with the fact that the CIA is not allowed to operate within the US?” My gut instinct was to respond: ‘because I say they can!’ My dear husband gently pointed out to me that I while I am plot-god; if the question keeps coming up, then it’s a valid one…
Backed into a corner, I emailed my cousin/more like brother, who has been working at the Department of Money in DC, since college. I lived in the DC area, so I spent a lot of time with my aunt and uncle, who was a children’s dentist in Georgetown. My uncle also worked Intelligence in Paris during WWII. My cousin asked a few people he knew and was not happy with the answers, although I was happy with the response. Basically, the husband whose wife goes into labor, knows speeding to the hospital is breaking the law and if he’s stopped he most likely won’t get a ticket. He still knows he is breaking the law but he makes a conscious decision that his wife is at that moment worth the risk. Does this mean I just tell the reader to shut up, trust me, and believe what I am writing? No, it means I have to write it so the reader reaches the same conclusion.
So, next weekend I am not aiming for a mini-degree in criminology, I want the tools to write plausible scenarios… after all it’s bitchin’ fiction, that’s my goal!