This is something that I often do. I’m working on my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and it has a lot to do with wild fires. I’m not a firefighter, except for one retired fireman married to my cousin, I have none in my family. (Cousin’s hubby wouldn’t be helpful because he fought city fires.)
Fortunately, I have a friend who is also in my critque group who has been a volunteer fireman for years and often works on the big forest fires around the state. Believe me, I’ve truly picked his brain.
I’m good at this because of course, I’ve never been a resident deputy sheriff either. Living where I do, we’ve had several I’ve become acquainted with over the years. In fact, I wrote an article for the newspaper about the woman who inspired me to write about a female deputy sheriff. As for the real-life deputies who came after her, the first was a layed-back guy who had some traits that I borrowed for Tempe. Even the more gung-ho type we have now was kind enough to let me see inside his truck so I’d know what one looked like.
And for all of us writing about murder–I doubt that many of us have known a murderer personally or what really makes one do what the or she has done. But it hasn’t stopped any of us from writing about murderers and the acts they commit.
What I think that says for all of us is that we’re good at researching what we want to know and have incredibly lively imaginations. And of course, we’re counting on our readers to be transported to the world that we’ve created.
What else can you think of that helps you to write about people and subjects you really don’t know much about?
Marilyn who also writes as F.M. Meredith
6 thoughts on “Writing About Something I Know Little About”
Oh, my goodness, Skye!
I meant what I wrote a long time ago; my writing surrounds the unusual assortment of the odd people drawn to me; I am one of those ‘goodie two-shoes, etc.” type of person who attracts unsavory characters.
LOL; sadly Marilyn, I do know people who have committed murder, and two appeared to be very innocuous; however, one gave me bad vibes. Rabbi Neulander and his poor wife Carolyn lived close by and so was her famous bakery; Len Jenoff lived on the court behind my house and my children went to school with his; I was friendly with his wife Phyllis. I also knew Otto Krupp and even dated him……….UGH. However, reading, television and constantly conjuring up scenes in my mind help me along, too.
This was not supposed to be up now. Shows what a klutz I am when it comes to WordPress.
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Since my mysteries aren’t about murder, I’ve found myself researching all sorts of other things–many of which I hope are invisible to readers, blending into the background smoothly. I learned more than I ever thought I would need to about 1989 Aerostar vans for Snake Face because part of that book’s plot requires an old van to break down and I needed to know what could cause what symptoms, (and a lot more that I will not bore you with here). I did online research, and I also took notes while listening to Car Talk.
Interviewing people who’ve done some of the jobs my secondary characters do has helped a lot with things I couldn’t look up. Fellow Sisters in Crime “Guppies” members have been great resources. A question about a character who was in the Air Force? I found a former airman Guppy. A legal question? I found a lawyer Guppy. About a musician’s life on the road? I found a Guppy who sang in a band who read the whole work in progress for accuracy. I love my fellow SinC Guppies!
Visuals like photographs, posters, and videos help me a great deal! And I enjoy drawing on small experiences I’ve had in the past and projecting them into tense, dangerous ordeals for the protagonists. Or tilting a gentle terrain I’ve hiked for a harrowing chase scene. As you say, imagination, coupled with vividly memorable experiences. I enjoyed your post, Marilyn!
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