We’d rather be writing still I think most readers would be surprised how often an author must stop to research things even for fiction. It ruins the right brain flow if we’re not absolutely sure about say, how a school might evacuate during a bomb threat. In the baby steps of my new mystery novel for middle aged readers, my brain froze at exactly this dilemma. I visited the Halton Police website and saw a phone number.
No I didn’t want to call and talk to anyone. Reluctantly I dialled Sergeant Glen of the bomb squad. I hate having to talk out an infant plot with someone I don’t know. So much rides on their cooperation and I can’t even promise if or when the story will be published, never mind a thank you in the acknowledgement or a free copy of the novel.
But this was a great phone call. Things I didn’t know: how often kids prank call these threats during exam time. Really? Isn’t it easier just to study and take the test? How much time is involved in investigating a suspicious package: six hours minimally. And it’s not all Die Hard Hollywood with a timer ticking. Digital bombs don’t tick or have a visual timing device. Sometimes they’re detonated by movement, light or a cell phone call.
Sergeant Glen immediately invited me to come down and see their equipment. Honestly, there was no need for me to do this, at least not for the plot of my book as it stood. Still. It would be cool.
I saw the squad’s blank white trailer (people get nervous if the bomb squad shows up in a labelled vehicle), looked at their safety suits and of course, took a photo of their detonating robot. See below.
Sometimes research makes a plot twist. I knew when I saw their detonating robot, it would need to crawl across my page. And yet they don’t even have a name for this $350,000 technological miracle.
Of course I will. Care to suggest one?