When you write you get to make things up. It’s one of the perks of the profession. The problem is sometimes you need to use actual facts. I’ve always admired science fiction and fantasy writers who can just create things as they need them. If they need an exciting moment they can just bring in a pamelaandersonasaurus to change its shape constantly and spray everything with silicon, or an alien from the planet Gibson who will curse loudly and blame everything on Israel.
I deal in reality, or at least as much reality someone who writes fiction can deal with. My facts have to be accurate or Bubba is going to say, “What kind of Bozo would use a .22-250 to shoot an Elk?” It means a lot to me to be accurate. Most readers would never know the difference, but someone would know and it would bother me.
In my first book, In The Sticks, I didn’t have to do any research. The book is about small department law enforcement. I spent twenty-six years in small department law enforcement. I knew what was going on. I knew the procedures and how things were done. They say to write about what you know and I definitely know small department law enforcement. I enjoyed bringing an Inside Baseball feel to the book. My second book, Graves of His Personal Liking, is set in the old west. I’ve always enjoyed history, but I needed to be accurate on the types of rifles and weapons the buffalo hunters used. A lot of research was involved getting things right. I hate research. I’d rather just throw things out there, but it doesn’t work that way. Somewhere in Bigsnob University is Professor Horatio Knowitall who is an expert on buffalo hunters. He’s written twelve books on the subject that seven people have read. If I get the facts wrong, he’s going to know, and that bothers me. So I looked things up and found even the experts disagree on certain things. I went with facts that everyone seemed to agree with. I like playing it safe.
The book I am currently working on is a sequel to my first book. It is about small department law enforcement, and is set at a lake in northern Minnesota. As I said before, I know small department law enforcement and I have spent many weeks at resorts fishing. I have fished for as long as I can remember. I know fishing and I know how to operate a boat, even if my current boat has scratch marks along its sides where I have hit a dock now and then, but I know how it is supposed to be done and that is all that is important in writing. I came to a point in the book where there had to be some underwater diving. I have never been a SCUBA diver, so I really know very little about it. I tried looking up the information I needed, but the problem was sometimes the way things are supposed to be done and the way things are actually done are not the same. I like to bring a sense of realism to my novels. I figured I had two options: I could do weeks of extensive research and interview master dive instructors to get the information I needed, or I could call a friend I have who is a certified diver but hasn’t actually dived in years. I called my friend and he gave me the information. It took all of five minutes. I told him I would give him credit for helping me with the diving stuff in the dedication part of the book. Actually I’m laying all the blame on him if he got it wrong. So Professor Mypoopdoesn’tstink at Iknowmorethanyou University, if you have a problem with my diving facts you can blame my friend. Email me. I’ll give you his name, phone number and email address.