Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Research Trip

By Maggie

Whenever we're writing a new mystery, we authors often have to research topics that arise in our novels. While writing the last seven of the Kelly Flynn Knitting Mysteries, I've found myself interviewing police detectives on investigatory procedures for drug-related crimes, police officers in the justice center on booking and arrest procedures, patrol officers on their experiences with drug overdoses regarding college students, alpaca ranchers, sheep ranchers, wool market vendors, Denver art gallery owners, fiber artists, toured numerous art galleries, interviewed the real Lambspun shop owner, Shirley, on dyeing procedures for newly-spun fleeces, and a PhD clinical psychologist who's counseled victims of sexual violence. A pretty wide spectrum.

Well, add another topic to the list. Guns. Yep. Last weekend, I went to a huge gun show to interview firearms dealers. I was writing a scene in the current Kelly Flynn mystery, the eighth in the series, and I needed information. In fact, I had already finished the entire rough draft two weeks ago, but one of the things I knew I needed to add during the "Revision Period" was the information I could only obtain from a gun dealer. Thus, my weekend visit.

Kelly needs information on an old World War Two pistol. it's been used in a murder, and she's convinced it's a clue, a BIG clue. Turns out she's right. But, she can only prove it with the help of the information she learns from those gun dealers. Just like my experience, Kelly will find the dealers to be very kind and helpful in answering all her many questions and pointing her to other people who will also provide information.

Meanwhile, I got to join the crowds of folks who attended the gun show. There were firearms of every description----antique guns from the Revolutionary War and every war since and every type of hunting rifle imaginable. Along with vendors of jewelry, clothes, food, books, even pretty silk scarves. No kidding. I swear I saw the same scarves there that I've seen at fiber markets.

So, I got a BBQ pork sandwich and a gourmet coffeeshop coffee (they have that, too), found a table, and sat and took notes while I enjoyed my lunch and watched the folks wander past the vendors. It reminded me of a sporting goods & RV show I attended years ago.

Have any of you attended a large exhibition or convention lately?

13 comments:

Whalehugger said...

The last large exhibition I attended wasn't for writing purposes, but was for research. It was the Textile Heritage Festival in Greenville, SC. I was there for research as well as an exhibitor. I was invited to be there as my hobby is photographing old textile mills and I like learning of the history of the people who work there.

I do know I need to get in touch with a dojo or two in the future as my hero is a martial arts master and I'd like to get input on what he's capable of, as well as watch the action of the moves I've got in mind. Still haven't worked up the nerve to talk to the instructors yet. I keep thinking they'll laugh me off as some weird chick :) Any suggestions?

Deb Baker said...

I love researching this way, Maggie. It's fun learning new things. I haven't been to any large events lately, but I've been hanging around beeyards for my honeybee books.

Lover of Books said...

Not been to any large events lately. I did go to a marriage conference and learned a lot! So maybe that counts. :)

Krista

signlady217 said...

My church organization's annual Deaf Ministry conference is coming up again in July. That's always very helpful and rejuvenating for me.

Linda said...

I went to the Desert Dreams Writer's Conference in Arizona a couple of weeks ago. So much fun! A convention full of writers, talking about their stories/publishing/ promotion, etc.

Maggie, I'm sure observing all the folks at the gun show was quite interesting. Sounds like fun.

Maggie Sefton said...

Whalehugger----you're not weired. You're a writer. That's a different kind of weird. And I bet the martial arts guys will be flattered you're asking then and will give you lots of info. Why don't you sign up for a class? Short one? Simple one? ::+

Maggie Sefton said...

Deb----Beeyards? That sounds cool. Are they large areas that belong to beekeepers or something?

Maggie Sefton said...

Lover of Books----LOL about the Marriag conference. I guess wed all learn a lot from a marriate conference. After the fact, sometimes it's easier.

Maggie Sefton said...

sighLady----Now that deaf conference really sounds fascinating. And you'd get to focus in on signing at a mega level. Wow. That must be a real high.

Maggie Sefton said...

Linda---It sure was interesting. It was just like observing people going to the mall. Just ordinary, everyday people, slice of life sort of thing. Nothing strange, really.

Sarah said...

Sounds like fun! All the research authors get to do must be so interesting :-)

Sarah M.

Maggie Sefton said...

You're right, Sarah, I find it very interesting. But then, I spent over a decade writing big historical novels, so I LOVE doing research. Going to t he library and disappearing into the stacks, surrounded by books up to my ears---that was total enjoyment for me.

Jan said...

The last one I went to was a Stamper/Scrapbooking expo in Glendale AZ. I spent way too much money, but had a great time getting new ideas! (and stuff)