You ever realize just how little you know about, well, many things?
This realization hit me again recently when I wrote the first draft of the first book in a new horror-mystery series. I wanted to set the novels in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a city where I used to live (and which I still live near). But I didn’t know what it was like to be a Portsmouth police officer, or a city councilor, or pretty much anything besides a writer and editor. And if I got anything wrong about the city, there’d be plenty of locals happy to call me out on the mistakes.
So I figured, why lone-wolf it? Why not ask some of those local folks for help with my research?
That’s how I ended up interviewing a couple of Portsmouth police personnel last week. One a current detective, and the other a retired police chief. The chief has also connected me with a former FBI agent based in Portsmouth. So far I’ve learned a lot of great info that I can use in my new book — and that can help me fix my dumbest mistakes, too. (Not every cop works with a partner, you know!) And there’s lots more people who have offered to talk to me about various other jobs in Portsmouth, too.
Turns out people are happy to talk about their jobs if you just ask them. (Buying them a coffee or beer can help, too.) Next time you get stuck in your creative endeavor, whatever it may be, try seeking out some advice from the local community. Not only can you hear some great stories, but it also invests others in your project.
Quick note: Part 4, the final part of my serialized horror novel, The Pseudo-Chronicles of Mark Huntley, is now available on Amazon. That means you can now read Mark’s saga from beginning to end. Just in time for Christmas! If, you know, reading about the end of civilization puts you in a Yuletide mood.
I’ve got plans in 2016 to spread the wider word about both Player Choice and The Pseudo-Chronicles of Mark Huntley. I’m going to better connect with the speculative fiction community. And I’m thinking a print version of these books may just help them, like Pinocchio, become more like a “real boy” . . .
Talk to you next year!