What sort of research do you have to do to write about lawmen, military etc? Do you get people in those fields read the technical parts to make sure they are authentic?
My research is a daily thing. I literally read and watch everything I can. Of course, a lot of my details are based on what I have read on websites, or in books, but I also have various experts I call on for help as and when I want their help. For example when I drew my SEALs in the Sanctuary series, I had someone in the Navy who worked near the SEALs and gave them an authentic twist with real details. I have a reader who has a son who is a marine, I have a best friend who is an experienced nurse. Then I have my TV shows, and my own imagination.
For example, take the scene in Ellery 6 with the attack in the park. I wrote it and then I asked my nurse friend – how can someone be nearly dead and then saved by a passer by who uses his initiative? She told me about credit cards and holes in lungs and suddenly everything made sense.
I also subscribe to a couple of writing places where they have workshops on various things, like guns, or crime.
Excerpt from Ellery Mountain book 5, The Paramedic and the Writer
“What was that?” Ian stopped walking and tilted his head.
“You don’t hear that? It sounds like someone shouting.”
Jamie listened carefully. Then he heard it. “Loser!” The faint sound of distant shouting. “Fag!” It didn’t sound like an argument, more like someone screaming hatred and the noise of a fight. Jamie released his support of Ian and waited a second to check Ian could stand. When he was happy Ian was steady, Jamie sprinted into the park towards the thick bushes that formed a natural fencing-in of the grassed area. He stopped when he wasn’t sure where the noise had come from, then—there—he realised where he needed to head. He caught the back of someone running away, but he couldn’t be sure of who it was. Plunging into the undergrowth, he slid to a halt, horrified at what he saw. A body lying broken on the ground, an arm over their face. It was too dark in here to see much else. After falling to his knees, he pulled out his cell to give some light.
“Oh fuck,” Ian said from behind him.
Jamie tossed his phone at Ian. “Get 911 on,” he said quickly. The area where the body lay was thick with tangled bushes and Jamie could smell gasoline. Someone had pushed this victim into the darkness to hide their work and tipped gasoline over them. Fuck, were they trying to burn the evidence? Was the person dead? He felt for a pulse. There was one although it was faint. Assessing the area, he quickly got an idea of what the first responders would face. There was limited access. A split-second decision and he dragged the form out from the dark and into the light of the street lamp on the sidewalk. Ian held the phone to Jamie’s ear. He was calm and focused and Jamie needed that at this moment.
Focusing on what was in front of him in the small area of light, he began to check the injured person. When his hands came away sticky with blood and the figure rolled slightly, Jamie finally got a good look at the features of the person bleeding in the park.
At first it was difficult to see, but then it hit him like a fist to the gut.
Norma-Jean’s grandson, Mikey.
“Mikey?” Shit. “Can you hear me?” Jamie shook his shoulders. The kid was breathing with difficulty and Jamie immediately checked his airway. Nothing. Which meant there was a problem elsewhere. There was a laceration to Mikey’s left temple—head injury with potential internal haemorrhage. The white shirt he wore had blood on it. Jamie pulled it away and exposed a puncture wound. A knife? The left-hand side of Mikey’s chest was failing to rise and fall. Tension pneumothorax. Jamie explored the area and felt the bones grating. Not good. Crepitus indicates broken ribs. The kid probably had a punctured lung, his pulse rate was racing and his respiration laboured and difficult. Mikey would die if he didn’t get help urgently.
“Here,” Ian said quickly. “On loudspeaker.”
“Priority one call,” Jamie started. “Hill Road, at Broadfields Park. Patient unconscious and breathing with difficulty, unresponsive to all stimuli. A stab wound to the left chest, we have a sucking chest wound with tension pneumothorax, fractured ribs and head injury with a contusion on the left temple. Pulse one forty, resp rate ten. Little blood externally. Drenched in gasoline. No burns.”
“On their way,” the dispatcher replied. Jamie waved the phone away and went straight into autopilot.
“What do I do?” Ian asked calmly from next to him.
“Stand on the road, wait for the lights, let them know where we are.”
Ian disappeared through the bushes and Jamie concentrated on tilting Mikey’s chin up and head back. He needed to close the wound. The air was being sucked in and filling the space. If it weren't closed soon, one or both of the kid’s lungs would totally collapse. The compression in the lung cavity would slow or even stop the return of blood to the heart from the veins. Blood pressure would drop and Jamie would lose control of this situation quicker than lightning. He felt in his pockets. He had nothing to close the hole causing the pneumothorax. Shit, what he wouldn’t give for his full kit. If all else fails, use your hand. He judged the next exhalation then placed his palm flat on the hole, leaving a small gap. It was all he could do.
Who would do this to Mikey? He was a good kid who lived with his Nan and worked hard at school. He was funny, feisty, and the type of teenager that Jamie wished he could have been—confident in his own skin. This kind of thing didn’t happen in Ellery. This was more like the kind of stuff he’d come across during his time in the city.