Research is Essential (Katherine Pritchett)

What do the Russian mafia, burn surgery and recovery, and Secret Service protection for Presidential candidates have in common? All are subjects I am researching for my work in progress and the "next two projects."

It shouldn’t be that hard, right? Just put “Russian mafia” into the search bar, and follow a few of those links. Did you know that there are estimated to be over 6,000 such criminal groups in Russia? Even though the head of the Russian National Central Bureau of Interpol denies any organizations such as this exist, in the 1990’s it was deemed the greatest threat to U.S national security. However, the rumor I’m pursuing for the third book in the Richard Matthews series is that the Russian mafia never cancels a hit. And when they set a hit, as they did on Richard for his part in diverting nuclear war in Korea in The Judas Seat, it’s not just the target, it’s the whole family. That, coupled with an obsessed stalker from More Than a Point of Honor, form the basis for Convergence.

Wild Rose editor Rhonda Penders’ question, “Can this be a series?” prompted my research into what point at which a Presidential candidate begins Secret Service protection. In the sequel to soon-to-be-released What the River Knows, our hero Scott Aylward has to pull security duty as our Governor makes a “big announcement.” While Scott watches people who paid thousands of dollars for the privilege of being at the dinner, he remembers one of his mother’s favorite phrases, “A little shame is a good thing.” Just as the Governor begins his speech, a comely female server hops naked to a table at the back of the room, shouting that the Governor is not the moral leader he appears to be. We’ll see if A Little Shame makes it to press.

But the current work in progress, a romance entitled Love’s Crossroads, presents a real challenge. My ex was an EMT for many years, but since we’ve been divorced for nearly 20 years, I haven’t stayed current with emergency medical practices. So, I have to find something besides the use of MAST trousers to trigger a confrontation between the female paramedic and the surgeon. And then I have to ensure my cardiac arrest procedures are accurate or vague enough to suffice as the two begin to respect each other. Then finally, when he is injured trying to keep her from harm’s way on an emergency response, the mechanics of injury, field response, in-hospital follow-up care and rehabilitation have to be accurate.

Although the strength of the story line and compelling characters should cause a reader to suspend disbelief and immerse themselves fully in your story, inaccuracies can jar them out of their immersion. Trust me, no matter what subject you write about, at least one reader is an expert on that subject and will call you out if you make a mistake. I recently read an otherwise excellent story where the author had the mother driving a Ford Impala. I have to confess, I set the book down and wondered what other errors I would find. Finally, though, the mystery of how the story would play out and the characters grow pulled me back in, and I finished the book. It was an excellent read, but I will never forget the Ford Impala. Let accuracy be the goal all of us strive for.


Joan Vincent said...

A Little Shame sounds very intriguing as does the entire Russian series. A Ford Impala--since I drive a Chevy Impala that would have caught my eye too! I too work hard for accuracy. Sounds like you are a pro at it.