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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Research, Research, Research

Everywhere I turn right now, I have stacks and stacks of reference books. I have books on magical creatures, evil creatures, how to be a PI, my Gaelic dictionary, my books on being a cop. Of course, I can't find the book I want, my LAPD book. I think Rampart Division is the most dangerous in Los Angeles, but it's hard to tell from the online searches I've done. The stats on the LAPD website aren't helping me much.

Another Tor author, Jenna Black, talked about needing an esoteric fact, the kind of information that you can't find quickly on the internet or in a book. That's the story of my life. I always have these odd questions that are difficult to get answers for.

When I was writing Eternal Nights and I had odd military questions, I could go to one of the guys I work with. There are three of them in Air National Guard, but all had a military career before that. One was in the Army, another in the Navy and I think Jason was in the Air Force so among the three of them, I usually could get an answer. Most of the time, though, I'm not that lucky.

Is finding out which division in LA is the most dangerous according to the police crucial to my book? No. But... But the hero patrolled in that division for a while at the start of his career. Would the fact that I say he's from the Rampart or Wilshire division going to mean a lot to most people? No. I know that. But I like to be accurate, and I'd use it in such a way that even readers unfamiliar with LA would realize that it was a crime-ridden and risky area of the city.

So my stacks of research books are in danger of falling over from all the stuff I need references for on the book I'm working on and I happen to visit a message board where someone has posted a poll: What type of romance would you like to write? (BTW, as far as I can tell, these are readers, not writers by and large so it was more like a fantasy type question.) One of the choices was futuristic, which surprised me since the posters over there are mostly not futuristic fans.

Anyway, one woman posted telling what her selection was and why. She said she chose futuristic. Why? Because even though she adores historical romance, she wouldn't want to do all that research, and of course, futuristic romance requires no research at all.

I whimpered.

No research? I know much more about the US Army, Special Forces, nanotechnology, quantum brain nanotechnology, pyramids, the climate of the Maldives, demons and about half a million other subjects than I ever thought I'd know. I'd be hard pressed to think of one futuristic author who doesn't do a lot of research for her story and the same goes for paranormal authors. Maybe our worlds are fantastical at times, but our need for research is still there.

So does anyone know if Rampart is the most dangerous division in Los Angeles?