aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Real people, really important

When I wrote my first book, Circles of Confusion, I mostly researched it through books. Since then, I've been able to find almost anything on the Internet. When I wanted some ideas of how security systems work - and how they might be circumvented - I found them online. I can even email experts - like Mike the LA coroner - to ask things about how to disguise the time of death.

But - and this is a big BUT - talking to real people will always add details that you won't read in books or on the Internet. When I was researching strychnine poisoning for Buried Diamonds, I called Dove Lewis Animal Hospital and spoke to a real vet. She said that poisoned dogs have the "sawhorse stance." That immediately created a mental picture. And I hadn't seen that piece of information in any of my research. In gratitude, I named my fictional vet, who makes a brief appearance, after Louise, the real vet.

As I work on my current book, about a blind girl's who's been kidnapped, I'm reading tons of books about being blind. And I've made some new friends on the Internet who are blind. But the two best things I've done are going to the guide dog school that luckily is just 30 miles from my house, and talking to a blind teenager the guide dog school put me in touch with. For example, she told me that her school district holds a "blind book group" - and that when she first attended, she was the only one in the group who had read the book. The "book group" is actually more of a chance to get together with friends (probably like a lot of real book groups).

Talking to real people is going to make Shadows Walking Backward a better book.

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Tags: real people, research

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