Sunday, October 23, 2011

I'm going to jail

by: Joelle Charbonneau

This weekend, I was part of a mini-panel at the Legends of the Fall book celebration at Booked for Murder in Madison, Wisconsin. I was honored to chat with the audience along side David Walker and Kathleen Ernst. (If you haven’t read their books, you should. They’re fabulous!) Anyway, during the question and answer period with the audience, someone asked “What was the most unusual thing you’ve ever had to research?”

We all had different answers. David talked about going to a small town 50 miles south of Chicago and almost getting his butt thrown in jail by the police chief who didn’t believe he was an author. Kathleen discussed some interesting history moments she had to research. I, of course, talked about camels.

However, I did then realize that not all my research involves the innocent Googling of dromedaries. Like my fellow DSDers, I write crime fiction. That means there is death, guns, exploding stuff and all sorts of nasty things that befall my characters. And while I use a number of methods to research my plot points, many of my initial steps to understand a topic begin online. And as we all know – lots of government agencies are monitoring the internet highways looking for people with the potential for criminal tendencies.

Oh crap! I am totally going to jail.

If not, I am totally on someone’s watch list. Which is equally cool and scary for pretty straight-laced me. With Homeland Security and other government agencies actively monitoring search histories, I’m guessing a huge number of crime fiction writers are on that watch list with me.

Or maybe we aren’t. Maybe once they see our Google search for homemade explosives and potassium cyanide, the government official on duty does a Google search of his own and finds an author website attached to our name. I can only hope. Otherwise, I am totally doomed the minute someone in my neighborhood drops dead of cyanide poisoning or is killed with a pink hand gun.

So, while I’m waiting for the Feds to show up and cart me away, tell me – what is the most unusual thing you’ve ever had to research? Will your Google search history get you carted off to jail? If so, maybe you want to share a cell. I promise I don’t snore.

1 comment:

Al Tucher said...

I have mentioned this before, but I interviewed an escort-level prostitute for my Diana Andrews stories. She gave me fantastic material that I am still mining.

I found her online, which is where most of the women at her level seem to set up shop these days. So yes, my search history is, uh, interesting.