Edith here, writing from north of Boston, where fall has finally hit. Our guest today is the multi-published Linda Lovely. Bones to Pick, the first mystery in her new Brie Hooker Mysteries series, releases in a few weeks! To celebrate, she’ll give away a signed ARC now or an ebook after the book comes out to one commenter here today. Take it away, Linda.
Wicked Research for Wicked Villains
This blog’s Wicked Cozy Authors title echoes my belief that the best cozy mysteries have plenty of wicked seasoning. Just because a novel eschews profanity, graphic violence and sex doesn’t mean the heroine (or hero) won’t confront a multitude of deadly dangers engineered by wicked, ingenious villains
A mystery’s heroine is most memorable—and heroic—when she faces scary villains. This requires some wicked research. The Writers’ Police Academy (WPA), held each August at a real police academy, offers hands-on experiences that writers can use to create haunting villains and plausible plots. WPA instructors are the same ones who train police in everything from firearms and non-lethal weapons to drones and crime scene investigation. Outside experts also explore subjects like bioweapons, forensic psychology, gangs, and private investigation techniques.
Full disclosure: I’m a five-year member of the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) “family.” I handle registrations, coordinate the Golden Donut Short Story contest, and help with varied organizational details. I volunteer because the program affords me—and fellow crime writers—invaluable opportunities to pick the brains of experts and get the details right.
Over the years, the WPA has given me the chance to fire a Glock and an AR-15…feel the tension of making a split-second, shoot-don’t-shoot decision…learn to free myself from a larger assailant…ride in an ambulance with a paramedic…handcuff a suspect…join a SWAT team in clearing a building…wear a duty belt…swing a baton. And the list goes on.
Once I’m home, these experiences weave their way into my cozy mysteries. In Bones To Pick, the first novel in my Brie Hooker Mystery series, Brie’s recall of her dad’s story about gangbangers hiding weapons saves her life. (Though Brie’s dad is a horticultural professor, he’s also an aspiring crime novelist who attends the WPA each summer.)
In the second Brie Hooker Mystery, which I recently turned into my editor at Henery Press, the heroine flies a drone to gain key information. While Brie doesn’t pack heat, the villains she faces do. So I tap weapons’ knowledge gained at WPA to describe their firearms. Insights into police procedures, CSI techniques, autopsies, poisons and criminal proceedings also figure in how Brie interacts with law enforcement and the legal system.
In the real world, amateur sleuths seldom prove the innocence of a loved one, solve a cold murder case, uncover fraud, or thwart a radical group’s attempt to rig an election. However, authors can make any of these plots more plausible by weaving in accurate criminal behavior and crime-fighting details.
Writers who can’t attend a WPA can look to information sources in their own backyards Options include ride-alongs with local police and online and in-person programs hosted by Sisters in Crime. Speakers at my Upstate South Carolina SinC chapter’s meetings have included K-9 officers, DAs, judges, detectives, US Marshalls, FBI agents, crime scene investigators, ATF officers, paramedics, bank fraud investigators, and even psychics.
The best part? I’ve yet to meet an expert who wasn’t willing to answer my questions. I’ve gained insights into experiences well outside my day-to-day existence. It’s also allowed me to make friends with people from many walks of life. Yes, research improves books, but it also enriches the researcher’s life.
Linda Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and advertising copy. Her blend of mystery and humor lets her chuckle as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her new Brie Hooker Mystery series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. While her new series may be cozy, she weaves in plenty of adrenaline-packed scenes to keep readers flipping pages.
She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and also belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America. She’s the award-winning author of five prior mystery/suspense/thriller novels. To learn more, visit her website: www.lindalovely.com
Readers: Which expert has helped you in some area of your life? Writers: Who is the quirkiest expert you’ve called on in the name of research? Remember, she’s giving away a signed ARC now or an ebook after the book comes out to one commenter here today.
I’d love a signed ARC, even though I am WAY behind on all those read-and-review ebooks. Right now I need to shut down and head to the local Breakfast Group (there is probably one in YOUR town as well).
Hope you’re having fun at your breakfast group. I just had breakfast with another of my research sources. Arlene, my friend since kindergarten, is visiting. She’s retired military intelligence and provided tons of information for my Marley Clark Mystery series.
I loved your observation that research also enriches the author’s life. I’ve been participating in our local Sheriff’s Department Citizens Police Academy, and I’ve met terrific people and learned so much. As for the quirkiest expert I’ve called on, that had to be the bus driver in Cornwall. Steve, a native, had one of those quirky flirty Cornish smiles guaranteed to make a woman smile,, and he was a wealth of information, expressions, and aura.
What a great resource! When you talk with people, it’s amazing what you learn about their backgrounds. I attended a birthday party recently and discovered that the gentleman I was chatting with was a former Treasury agent. I talked him into being a guest speaker at our local Sisters in Crime meeting.
Welcome! And I love that you value accuracy (readers, we don’t just make this stuff up!). My quirkiest research: touring an Irish distillery. It was relatively new and not very large. The founders were one guy with a B.S. in Food Science, and two others (cousins) who had been commercial fishermen. I’ve been watching their output grow for a few years now–and one of the fishermen ended up in a book.
Six and Twenty Distillery is doing free whisky tastings for my book launch since one of the characters in Bones To Pick is a “legal” moonshiner. The owner of this distillery shared lots of information about a relative, who was known as the Prince of the Dark Corner–sort of a Robin Hood of moonshine. He gave some of the money he hid from revenuers to Confederate widows. Again, love learning these cool facts.
I’m not a writer, but I am a reader – I wonder if I would be allowed to attend one of these very interesting seminars…
Anybody can attend WPA, Gram. It’s held in Wisconsin in the summer. As for a Citizen’s Police Academy, check with your town. I attended one a few years ago and was the only writer in it. They are designed to let citizens of the town learn about the workings of their local police department.
Edit is correct. Anyone can attend the Writers’ Police Academy. Each year we have a number of fans of crime fiction–non-writers–who attend. We also have a number of authors who attend with spouses or friends and have a great time.
Sorry, Edith. I typed too fast. My apologies for the typo1
Wonderful fun new series and a great way to cull your AqOA expertise. I loved my time there.
You’ll have to come back to the WPA again! Lots of fun. There are always new courses and options. Like everything else, law enforcement is always changing.
Linda, welcome to the Wicked Cozys. It’s so nice to have you here today!
I’m delighted I could visit.
Sw….I never knew something like a WPA exists. That’s incredible. I admire how much time and research many writers put into a good mystery.
I’ve had some experts in life in general (a.k.a. mature humans) help me in some areas of my life, and I’ve appreciated the knowledge and wisdom attained from their experiences.
Thank you for all the great information and photos. Your profile picture is lovely!! (No pun intended..Ha!)
My husband’s last name is “Hooker.” I decided Linda Lovely Hooker would not have been a great pen name. But my heroine in Bones To Pick is Brie Hooker. Finally a nod to my husband’s family.
Welcome, Linda! Research is so much fun and we have an awesome Citizens Police Academy here. I hope to make it to WPA some day!
Would love to see you!
It amazes me in a good way the number of police officers willing to help writers get it right. As a reader, I really appreciate that.
My mom was a math major, and one thing she drilled into my head when she was teaching me math was “Does my answer make sense.” I use that all the time in my job, usually when I’ve forgotten to clear the old answer out of my adding machine and I add 2 and 2 to get 6,789. Something isn’t right.
I think that’s why police officers and other law enforcement professionals are willing to reach out to writers. It’s important to understand what makes sense. If you go through any of the training, you realize comments like why didn’t they shoot the gun out of his hand, make no sense.
That writers’ academy sounds very interesting—and so important to make the books realistic. Thanks for the contest.
Glad you found it interesting.
There has to be a story there somewhere, about the annual WPA where someone is knocking off Authors!
I love it! Fictionally, of course…
Sounds like your new book has been
Exciting and interesting to write. Being
Person married to a Fireman and police
Official. 😊 I know I would surely found
your book enjoyable to read. Sure
would love to win 😃 Thank you for giving us Cozy Readers a chance to
win a copy.
Thanks, Sherry. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to visit with Cozy Readers.
Hi, Linda, great to hear about your book, as well as the sources for information. The Writers Police Academy sounds like a really good time! In the meantime, I would love to win a copy of your book!
It is a really good time–and it makes me appreciate the police and law enforcement officers all the more. Even the little things. Like visiting the restroom with a duty belt on. Geesh.
Never heard of the WPA before now, but what a wonderful resource. I’ve often wondered how authors get so many esoteric details for their stories. I’m always impressed with the amount of research that many authors obviously put into their work.
The research is definitely one of the most fun aspects of writing fiction. My husband says I can ask more questions than anyone he’s ever met. I love to have an excuse to be nosy.
Sounds like a fun new series. Thanks for introducing us to this book & author. I feel like almost everyone I’ve met in my life has contributed something to it.
That’s a terrific attitude.
I had a librarian help expand my reading when I was about 9 or 10. She changed my life and I became a librarian to share my love of books as she did.
I love librarians, too. I spent a lot of time in my hometown library in Keokuk, Iowa, when I was growing up. It’s still a fabulous library.
Thanks for mentioning Keokuk, IA. Although I was totally unfamiliar with your hometown before today, I found its history fascinating.
Most of my writing “research” is of an informal nature. Into my writing I tend to weave bits and pieces from true stories from the news, trivia from lectures that I’ve attended and insights from people that have crossed my path. Earlier this year my town had a firefly walk with one of the world’s experts on the topic. Who knew that there was an international firefly conference? There’s no telling where fireflies or an internationally ranked firefly expert may or may not show up in my writing.
Of course, you should weave fireflies into a future work. I’ll bet the information was fascinating.
WPA has been a remarkable fund of information and the instructors are always helpful and happy to share. I still have notebooks full of details to be used in future posts. Hoping to make my sixth visit to WPA next summer!
Can’t wait to see the new series, Linda. 🙂
Patti, I’m hoping to make my sixth WPA, too. Would love to see you again.
When I was in seventh grade I read two books back to back. One was Natalie Enters Advertising, and the other was A Star for Ginny. Both girls had jobs in advertising. I knew then it was the career for me. I followed that dream, and did enjoy many years as an ad copy writer. Much later when I decided I’d like to write for young people, I ordered a book on writing juvenile stories and novels by one of my favorite mystery writers, Phyllis Whitney. Imagine my surprise when in that book I read the line, “When I wrote my second book, A Star for Ginny. . .” So definitely, Phyllis Whitney was a major influence–twice! I followed the advice in the how to book and sold five novels and a couple of biographies to School Book Fairs before I started writing cozies!
Wow, what serendipity! Definitely a great influence.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Bones to Pick, and it’s a winner. Linda puts her vast hands-on experience working with The Writer’s Police Academy to great results. Best of luck with this series. Looking forward to more brie–the character not the cheese, though the cheese isn’t bad either.
I mean more Brie.
Thanks, Polly. So glad you liked the book. Having fun with this cast of characters.
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