Researching Romantic Suspense –Make It Real
Posted by Rita Henuber Oct 17 2012, 12:01 am
Contemporary suspense gets more difficult to write every day because of technology. Readers are tech savvy. They expect authors to get it right. You have to make it real and do your research.
I literally put in days of research on helicopters for my first book. The heroine is a Coast Guard helicopter pilot. I felt it was worth it when my agent, editor, and readers asked if I was a helicopter pilot. The second book’s research on jungle survival wasn’t as intense. But, paid off the same way.
When researching go to the source. Asking questions on loops can be dangerous. I mean because some chick on the net says she dated a SEAL for two months in 1978 does not make her an expert on the teams. Because you second cousin’s next-door neighbor dated a guy who used to drive by the FBI building every day doesn’t make him an expert. Get the right scoop and make it real. To that point, I’m offering places to research and some writing ideas.
First, I’d like to give you the names of a chapter and group that specialize in mystery suspense and offer great support to authors.
Kiss of Death RWA chapter http://www.rwamysterysuspense.org/
Sisters in Crime http://www.sistersincrime.org/
Next, are blogs and websites I’ve found helpful.
Lee Lofland’s, The Graveyard Shift is brilliant for police procedure. http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/ In the right hand menu is a wealth of topics. Also, check out the info on The Writers’ Police Academy that is held every year.
Firearms Tutorial This tutorial is designed to give you a working knowledge of the types of firearms, the types of ammunition used, the nature of injuries that can be produced in the body, and the investigative techniques employed by the forensic pathologist in assessing firearms injuries. Has pictures. Gross. http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNINTRO.html
DP Lyle is an author and consultant for TV shows. http://www.dplylemd.com/DPLyleMD/Home.html People, he knows his stuff. His Forensics blog is brilliant and creepy http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/
Go to the source for questions. Most Sheriff and Police Departments have a media contact to email or call. Take advantage. Remember, no two departments operate the same.
Many RS books have a hero or heroine in one of the alphabet agencies or military. If this is what you are writing, research and make it real. A friend’s husband is retired FBI. She loves RS and asked me why all the agents in the books are rogues. She says all their friends are so straight laced it’s silly. A guy I know who will only say he is in Intelligence asks the same thing. I can only shrug because heck if I know. At RWA National, a group of veterans gave a workshop titled “Not Every Man in Uniform is A Navy SEAL.” So true. Gives you some things to think about. Any who, all the alphabet and military agencies have splendifious web sites with never ending information.
To search for any government agency put the name in with .gov after. I’m going to list a few links.
FBI. http://www.fbi.gov/ On the blue menu check status and services then Resources for Researchers –you can request your FBI record.
CIA. The new page https://www.cia.gov/ has a virtual photo trip and a special page for Kyrptos . If you are writing about the CIA and don’t know what Kyrptos is, you definitely need to do more CIA research.
DEA. Their new page http://www.justice.gov/dea/index.shtml lets you know all the current projects. On the home page, bottom right, you can sign up for their newsletter and get weekly updates.
JSOC Joint Special Operations Command can also be call United States Special Operation command USSCOM. Lots of different pages none official. Based at McDill AFB Tampa Fl where all the global planning for military operations takes place. http://www.socom.mil/default.aspx
NSA CSS National Security Agency Central Security Service http://www.nsa.gov/ Cryptologic info here.
Secret Service http://www.secretservice.gov Now, if you want to write about rogue agents this might be the place. Shaking my head here.
US Department of State http://www.state.gov Just a wow! So much info.
Once again for specific information about any branch of the military simply put in the name then .gov.
I am going to give you some of the lesser know branches you could consider writing about.
Coast Guard Special Operations. Maritime Security Response Team Maritime Safety and Security Teams. You really have to dig to get their info. Makes them all the more intriguing to me. http://www.americanspecialops.com/coast-guard/msrt/
Navy SWCC Another group totally ignored. Watch the video. That is live ammo they use. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfiJ8c1Tr_M&feature=related
U.S. Customs and Border Protection http://cbp.gov/ Some think of them as H&H on horseback but, know they defend ALL our borders.
U.S. Marshalls http://www.usmarshals.gov/ So much don’t know where to start.
U.S. Postal Inspectors. Tough dudes. https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/ You can even report spam email to them.
Giving away some of my secrets here.
ESI Executive Security International. http://www.esi-lifeforce.com/ Intelligence based training academy for executive protection, protective operations and corporate security. In other words highly trained body guards.
Joe Navarro. If you want to know about body language and learn how to decode human behavior. http://www.jnforensics.com
John Douglas. For profiling serial killers http://www.johndouglasmindhunter.com/
His site is currently being updated and says it should be open by the end of October. The old site was well worth a visit. I’m guessing the new one should be brilliant.
If you have questions about the ins and outs of government ask you state and federal representatives directly.
Library of Congress YOUR national library. Use them. They can help with research http://www.loc.gov/index.html
Marine Speak. Odd phrases a Marine will use.
The last tip is, YouTube. OMG! I don’t think there is anything you can’t find. FBI Academy Training. Coast Guard boat and helicopters. Special Forces. Real combat vids. Tours of the White House and other government buildings in DC. What any weapon looks and sounds like.
I think you get the point. Look and you can find it. Make it real.
If you have any site to share please do.
Learn more about Rita and her books, Under Fire and Under Fire: The Admiral, at her web home http://ritahenuber.com