Not in a Jeffrey Dalmner, bodies in the basement kind of way, but in a friction writer’s way.
The sure-fire method to create a hollow, unconvincing novel with cardboard characters is to
isolate oneself from the world.
Sure, I’m often dragged, snarling, away from the world of a chapter in progress only to be
forcibly hosed off in the shower and dressed in bright happy colors and sometimes even
makeup for a party I simply do NOT want to attend. And most of the time, I thank my
husband on the ride home because at that party, I collected more people.
One of my lifetime goals is to have a little white book filled with entries of contact numbers
and emails categorized, not by name, but by profession or area of expertise.
For my last book, I needed to know what happens after someone is shot in a major artery.
How much blood do they lose, and how fast? How much time do they have before they pass
out, or bleed out? Would a fundamentalist Muslim man shake hands when greeting a
Westerner? What is the Situation Room under the White House (a.k.a the Crisis Pit) really
like? Exactly how territorial are cows?
You can also ask the Universe/God/The Force for assistance. For example: in 1991, I
was ruminating on the idea of fundamentalist Islamic terrorists striking on U.S. soil. I hit a
research impasse. Remember, this was before the Internet was available for us “regular
people”. I had gone to the library- not very productive. I didn’t know anyone who had any
experience or knowledge about the Islamic world. Calls to different University professors
had gone unanswered. So I asked the Universe to send me the information I needed to
make my Islamic fundamentalist plot line authentic.
Shortly thereafter, I was sitting at a sushi bar and I struck up a conversation with the guy
hunched over his sake next to me. Turns out he was one of the Army Rangers whose
helicopter crashed in the desert during Jimmy Carter’s Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission.
Some of you will remember how that failed (sabotaged?) mission turned the tide in Ronald
Regan’s favor in the 1980 Presidential election. Anyway, this veteran’s entire right side had
to be rebuilt after the fiery crash, and it showed. He looked like he had been glued back
together. Now a self proclaimed “free-lance assassin”, he was the one who gave me a
history, background, and name for my fundamentalist Islamic terrorist. He also told me lots
of other really scary, heavy governmental stuff. If you’re curious, you can read that info in
my book, The Thief Of Sacred, because I couldn’t resist weaving it all into that story.
So take a chance, strike up a conversation on an airplane, bus or subway- even a grocery
store. Be on a constant prowl for new people to add to your collection. Besides, life will
be so much richer for it!
By the way, anybody out there a forward-thinking volcanologist?
I COLLECT PEOPLE