Wicked Wednesday – What’s got you on the NSA watch list?

It’s Wicked Wednesday, when we all weigh in on a topic. As mystery writers, we often joke about what would happen if people overheard our crazy dinner conversations on top murder methods or saw our frantic Googling sessions to find out the most logical place to hide a body. So today, we’re going to get a little silly and talk about the craziest thing we’ve ever researched. In other words, which search would end with you on some kind of watch list?

Edith: For me it’s got to be poisons. In past books and stories I have killed someone off RosaryPeaswith Datura tea, with liquid nicotine, with cyanide salts, with arsenic, with an unspecified botanical toxin, with Tylenol plus alcohol, and one coming up will use rosary peas. Deadly, deadly stuff, all of it! So if the NSA is tracking my searches, I’m, uh, dead in the water. But if the Poison Lady can stay in operation, I figure I can, too!

Liz: I think probably the weirdest thing I ever Googled was if you could kill someone with a corkscrew. Believe it or not, it has been done before….

Jessie: Disguising the smell of a decomposing body and composting a body probably would be mine.

IMG_4805Barb: For me, it’s probably arson. I have Googled so much about various ways to start fires, what happens when a body burns and arson investigation techniques that I hope no one ever has a reason to go through my search history.

Sherry: So many things to choose from and so little space. It’s probably from visiting so many sites with three letter acronyms — FBI, CIA, NSA, NGA, the list goes on and on. About six months after 9/11 my daughter and I were flying to Disney World with friends, when we went to check in we found out we were on the Do Not Fly list. After an airline employee spent thirty minutes on the phone we were finally allowed to fly — so maybe it started back then.

Readers: Do you think you are being watched? Why?

26 Thoughts

  1. I wouldn’t worry if I were you. They will look at what you do and conclude that authors are slightly “off” and nothing to worry about… 🙂

  2. I follow the hacktivist group Anonymous on Twitter. That should probably do it for me.
    But I think we are paranoid for nothing. A couple of years ago, I had a photo taken with the Socialist Party candidate for mayor of Philadelphia. (At a funeral. Long story.) That didn’t get me in trouble with TSA, so I figure I’m golden.

    1. Sometime I will have to tell you my story about being at a couple of events and then being asked by a guy in the CIA if we’d met before. I figure my face flashed up on his computer.

  3. I assume there’s an FBI file on me somewhere because I’ve been a student or employee at not one but two institutions where multi-million dollar art thefts occurred. I know my fingerprints are on file somewhere because I once had a stockbroker’s license and that was required. All that was long before I started researching crime.

  4. I suspect the NSA triggers are terrorism, bomb-making, and weapons websites. Whenever I read a thriller set in the Middle East (aren’t they all?) I google maps and background information on the region. I want answers, but have a sneaking suspicion that someone is watching. My writing research is plant poisons, cadaver dogs, arson, and body decomposition.

  5. I showed up early Sunday morning with a friend at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum after the Saturday night heist. We were interviewed on television. I’m guessing I’m in more than a few files.

  6. Sherry, that’s priceless. Me: what does a meth lab smell like, what does marijuana smell like, what are the symptoms of monkshood oil poisoning, common gun for drug dealers, how to make a pipe bomb. I haven’t tried to fly since any of this. Maybe I shouldn’t try…

  7. Just remember, it’s not paranoia if they really are watching….

    Can’t think of anything I’ve Googled that would get me on a watch list. Although since I’m always talking about murder mysteries on line and hanging out at this blog with all of you who are on the watch list, that might do it.

  8. What allergies could be mistaken as poisonings is probably my best search. Also, body decomp, how to launder money, and after care for gunshots.

    My brother, at least, used to have a file, because one of his best friend’s uncle was a member of the IRA. Both my brother and his friend wore this as quite the badge of honor.

      1. My brother has more than his share of interesting stories really. I’m not sure if his life is really more interesting or if he’s just really good at winding a tale.

  9. My fate has been set since the antiwar marches of the ’60s and ’70s. College friends and neighbors were interviewed by men in suits, mail disappeared from my mailbox, and we heard clicks on the phone lines. Being polite, we greeted the listeners and asked if they wanted the recipe for the foods we were planning for dinner. During one demonstration, we spotted a not-very-surrepticious photographer, so we posed for a group shot. I held up two fingers in a peace sign, but I can’t attest to all other gestures that might have been made.
    I’d love to have my files from that era, since I didn’t journal or photograph, but I’ve been told those files have been sealed and are unavailable. Too bad, too, as I did good work in a quiet, respectable, unassuming way. I even convinced the St. Paul city counsel to set aside their rule that parade permits had to be requested six months in advance, by pointing out that we didn’t know Kent State would happen six months before, and promising not to drink or litter. We even promised to have first aid available if needed (which it was, as it’s a long walk from U of M campus in Minneapolis to the State Capitol in St. Paul, lots of blisters).

    1. A great story, Mary! My high school sociology teacher had us sign anti-war petitions (if we wanted to) every week. I’ve always figured the file started there.

  10. I am pretty sure everyone has done something or another to raise a red flag! I often look up flowers that are poisonous. I am not trying to kill someone but I don’t want to plant something that would harm my animals. My daughter is also taking a criminal justice course so we have definitely looked up some weird stuff! I love that you all do such great research to make your books even more incredible! Keepup the good work and don’t worry we will bail you out if they come knocking!

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