In regard to the thirteen (soon to be fifteen) novels I’ve written, anywhere from a quarter to a third of the time is spent doing the research that makes the incidents in my books plausible enough for readers.
It doesn’t matter if the story pertains to a topic which is second nature to me (say, a street route, movie studio roster, and location of a new planet for a contemporary Hollywood story–as I did for my very first novel, True Hollywood Lies; or if I’m looking for a zombie drug, traditional bigamist outpost and White House floorplan, which was necessary for my latest story, The Candidate, research is an integral part of my–and most novelists’–writing process.
And it most cases, it takes us far outside our comfort zones.
Case it point: I interviewed two licensed commercial pilots–one who flies jumbo jets for a national carrier, another who flies mid-sized private jets for corporate clients–for a very important scene in The Candidate, in which the plane of a highly skilled licensed pilot’s plane is sabotaged, but it must look like pilot error.
You’d think that would be easy, right?
Wrong. Here’s why:
Both pilots insisted that the combination of modern technology and safety fail safe logistics performed by competent pilots such as themselves has made it nearly impossible for a sab0teur to arrange such an accident–
And then each of them noodled a possible way around it.
I took the best one that fit my scenario, and used it in the book. You can read it here.
When you write in the thriller or suspense genre, the worst case scenario is always top of mind. Grim headlines drive us to consider “What if…” — examining every angle of what actually happened, then our heroes and heroines in the thick of it–
And allowing them to survive the catastrophe that follows.
We live in a fantasy world of close calls.
Two people died. Several dozen are in critical condition.
And yes it was pilot error.
My daughter was on that particular flight, not eight months ago.
For once, I didn’t want to think, “What if?”
Have you or a loved one had a close call?