If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Research Junkie

My name is Annette and I’m a researchaholic. Yes, I’m addicted to learning new stuff. And as a writer, I have the perfect excuse. I guess that makes me my own enabler.

“They” say you should write about what you know. I prefer saying you should write about what you want to know.

I’ve done both. In my Zoe Chambers series, Zoe’s a paramedic, a deputy coroner, and a horsewoman. I’ve been an EMT and owned horses for 25 years. I have not, however, been a deputy coroner. Nor have I ever been a cop. So for Zoe’s job in the coroner’s office and Pete’s job with the Vance Township Police Department, I have to research.

Back in 2008, I took the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Citizen’s Academy, which was my first behind-the-scenes taste of law enforcement. What I learned and experienced shaped the world I wrote about in huge ways. I blogged week by week about it on Working Stiffs. (Once you click the link, click on the Citizen's Police Academy label at the bottom of the post for more stories).

A few years later, I grabbed the opportunity to participate in the Pennsylvania State Police Citizen’s Academy. 

I thought there’d be a lot of overlap, which was fine. Refreshing the memory or getting updated information is always good. However, there was very little duplication. I learned and experienced a LOT of new stuff. And once again, it went into my writing.

In 2014 and 2017, I attended Lee Lofland’s Writers’ Police Academy, which further enlightened me about cops, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. 

I made a friend at Writers Police Academy!

Handcuffing techniques demonstration

Eye-opening demonstration on how dangerous
a knife attack can be

If you write about this world and have never attended one of these, you have no idea how much you don’t know.

Let me pause for a brief commercial announcement. Registration for this year’s Writers’ Police Academy, dubbed Murder Con, open soon. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend, but if you’re a writer and you have the chance, DO IT. If you’re a member of Sisters in Crime, check out the grants they offer for education.

End commercial announcement.

While I can’t make it to WPA this year, my desire for a research fix won’t go unabated. I’m excited to announce that after a pair of failed attempts, I was accepted for this spring’s FBI Citizen’s Academy! Picture me doing the Snoopy Dance. I’ve long wanted to write a story with an FBI agent as a lead character. Beginning next month, I’ll be taking part in an eight-week program that will take me behind the scenes of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which should give me the perspective needed to create an authentic character.

I have no idea what stories will hatch during these eight weeks, but I’m eager and excited to find out. (It will also provide material for a number of my future posts here at Writers Who Kill.)

My question to you writers: What kind of research do you do for your novels? And to the readers out there: Does it upset you to find glaring errors in procedure in the books you read? Or are you willing to suspend belief in order to enjoy the story?


Jim Jackson said...

What fun, Annette.

The thing I most research is location. If Seamus is going to spend time in jail, I want to know how that looks and sounds and smells. I've had great tours of several hoosegows he's "enjoyed."

I don't write police or court-room procedurals and will often compress real time frames for the purpose of the story. That kind of thing doesn't bother me.

However, pure fact issues do get me wondering, such as calling a handgun a revolver when it has a magazine. I wonder where the copy editor was and what else is wrong.

Edith Maxwell said...

So cool, Annette. I want to know the process of applying - lots of security clearances? Persuading them you are, in fact, a real writer? Why would you get turned down twice? Thanks, and congratulations!

Grace Topping said...

Congratulations, Annette, on getting accepted for the course. I recently took a tour of the FBI headquarters, and it was amazing how much I learned from that.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

congratulations on your acceptance! I'll have to pursue a Cincinnati FBI or Ohio State Trooper class. The local Citizen's Police Academy was invaluable--the community resource officer answers my emailed questions.

In the past month I've attended a Trafficking conference and a County Opioid Epidemic panel discussion. In past years I've attended drug and mental health workshops for first-responders and school personnel.

The next time I'm in DC, I'll schedule a visit to the FBI.

Liz Milliron said...

Congrats, Anne!

Like you, I've done the local Citizen's Police Academy and one with the Pennsylvania State Police. And I've done Lee's Writer's Police Academy. All invaluable.

I like Lee's approach of "believable make believe" because who wants to read a story about hours of paperwork? But it does irritate me if a writer hasn't bothered to get very basic details correct.

Liz Milliron said...

Uh, that should be congrats, Annette. Blame the cold (and possible strep).

Annette said...

Jim, I love to research locations too. And you hit on a good point. You can look at pictures and read about certain places, but the SMELLS are what no one includes unless you've actually been there. As for firearms, I once read a book where a sniper used a shotgun. Sorry. Nope.

Annette said...

Edith, I had an FBI agent sponsor my application (he's married to a friend of mine) all three times. The problem wasn't them not believing I was a writer. They only have a limited amount of spaces available and were filling them with CEOs and corporate types. I guess because of the dangerous times we live in, they felt these people NEEDED the information more. The purpose of the program isn't to help writers, after all.

I still have to go through the background checks and fingerprinting, but I'm not worried. As long as they don't look at my browser history! ;-)

Annette said...

Grace, that's cool! Yes, there's always something to learn!

Margaret, YES, often one of the best parts of taking a CPA is the connections you make! You may not need to go to DC. The program I'm taking is at our Pittsburgh FBI Headquarters.

Liz, You can call me Anne if you want. I hope you don't have strep! Feel better soon!

Warren Bull said...

Writing historical history, research is crucial and using primary resources is by far the bet way to go.

Annette said...

Absolutely, Warren!

Gloria Alden said...

My sisters in crime group have had several events with policemen and the Women's Guild of our church has had several ones, too. Also, I'm an avid reader and most of the books I read are mysteries, including yours that I've read that include policemen and their work for solving crimes or just hanging out together. Once a man who trained dogs for policemen brought his young dog to our local sisters in crime meeting, and another time at my church's women's guild meeting a police officer brought his trained police dog, too. I also have a niece who is married to a police officer. However, there have been times when I've gope online to research other things I want to include in my book, too.

KM Rockwood said...

I've had to curtail my "field trips" lately due to family responsibilities, and I miss the opportunity to continue my research & education. My chapter of SINC has had a few field trips lately I would have loved to attend! Not to mention the regular meetings.

I rely quite a bit on personal experiences & knowledge for my writing. I also have a number of people I can call on for more information--siblings who are in law enforcement; a friend who is a retired big-city public defender; friends who have felony convictions & all the circumstances that come with being in that position. Nothing like someone with a murder conviction who spent thirty years in prison and is out on parole to fill in the details of what it feels like when you're trying to get a loan to buy a truck.

Annette said...

Wow, Kathleen! That is some SERIOUS research!

Gloria, Sisters in Crime is a great organization for bringing research to the author!