While writing is something I do in solitary, it is not something I do alone. Read the acknowledgements of any novel to see how much help the author received from a wide range of experts.
The first thing I discovered when I was part way through my first manuscript was that Emily needed a gun. I found the perfect little hand gun in a pictorial catalog of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. It’s one thing to see a picture of a gun and quite another to handle and fire it. I mentioned it to someone I worked with and he brought me a variety of guns to handle and fire. Later when I needed the kind of gun a man, attempting to be manly, would buy: over priced, over decorated and too heavy. My expert found me the perfect gun. When a fellow writer wished to arm her detective, I invited them both to lunch at my home. He hauled out several weapons he thought would do.
Some of my characters are Quaker, but I am not, so when I needed something very specific, I called my local Meeting and asked if they had an historian. They did, but one Sunday after I attended meeting, most of those attending regaled me with stories and genealogical information. They even took me on a trip round the burial ground to find the graves of the actual people who appeared in my fictional rendition of their lives.
My most recent protagonist is an equine sports psychologist, who rides at the horse sports in which I have taken part. When I sat down to start another Hesta story, I found her client was a polo player. I know very little about polo. I have been to two matches, and read two works of fiction featuring the game, one when I was in Junior High.
So I went on line and found the local polo club, and emailed the man who teaches the juniors.
I am always a bit anxious when I contact someone I don’t know. No one has ever driven me away with whips and scorpions, but I have heard some deafening silence. He wrote back within the day with heaps of information. The only things he knows about me are that I am from the area and I claim to be a writer.
The world is full of wonderful people ready to help.