NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments! and often have guest bloggers.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Marcelle Dube . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Friday, August 22, 2014

Nerd Girl

I’ve spent the last few months working on a new kind of mystery writing project. Officially, I started as a researcher for a 10-episode, Netflicks TV show. (The premise is suspense/sci-fi. But if I tell you any more than that, someone will put a hit out on me. J

My unofficial, and more accurate title: Nerd Girl.
During regular meetings with the writers, I would listen to rough story elements and build an enormous list of questions to investigate:

“What do women prisoners in South Korea eat?”
“How many Nancy Drew mysteries are there?”   
“What are the steps for arranging an Indian/Hindi marriage?”

Then, I went hunting.

Can I stop here and admit that I love research? I love finding things. Great little hotels. People’s phone numbers. Where the ketchup ended up in the fridge…If something needs finding, I’m your girl.

I searched online news sources from all over the world, popped into the local college library for my more exotic research, and set up a dozen interviews with friends, or friends of friends. 

By asking around, I discovered a connection to someone who had actually toured a women’s prison in South Korea! Did you know it is surprisingly complicated to confirm the fact that there are 175 Nancy Drew Mystery Stories? (Don't get those Drew fans started about sequels. Unless you bring your lunch.) Later, I learned some of my women friends actually had arranged marriages. Whaaaat?

Talk about serendipity! I felt like the private detective in a story who has suspiciously convenient sources all over town.

Lots and lots of photos were captioned and saved. Movies related to the setting and characters, turned out to be another great source, so I dug into IMBD and kooky film blogs galore. TV/film people need to see the world; visuals are necessary inspiration. Pintrest was the motherlode.

Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure I got flagged for every government Watch-List there is after searching terms like: prison + Korea, gang names?, and counterfeit + drugs. (FYI, I may call all of you as character witnesses when I claim, “Honestly, your Honor, I’m an innocent writer/researcher!”)

Here’s where you can learn from my mistakes. I made one huge goof when I started. I did my research from my regular google launch page.

(moment of silence.) Yeah.

That was dumb.

Really, really weird emails started showing up in my mailbox. (Some of them were so odd I was tempted to save them, but didn't have the necessary CDC levels of quarantine.)

Then, I discovered google incognito. And learned to clear my history and cookies on a regular basis.

All the bits and pieces I gathered went into a OneNote notebook with links and references. Some of what I found was used, some wasn’t. But I learned a ton, and I admit, nerd-girl had a lot of fun working as a script researcher.

So here’s your chance: put the nerd-girl to work for you. Anybody have any questions I can answer?
  

Julie Wachowski is a writer. And a nerd-for-hire. Find her lurking on facebook and J.Wachowski.com

11 comments:

Rita said...

I DO love the research. My first editor asked me if I was a helicopter pilot. NO! I hate the bloody things. Ugg. I talked my way onto a yacht for research. It’s really scary when you go to the FBI building and they say “Oh, yes we know who you are.” Or, you’re the only one in your circle of friends who even know where said building is. I had government web pages I used for research that are gone, boom-piff. Maybe we should have a research party and share links. Ha! That should generate some red flags.

Rita said...

OH! I LOVE your pic. Shall we call you Nerd Girl from now on?

J Wachowski said...

You can def call me Nerd Girl, Rita. OMG--you toured the FBI building and they KNEW you?! Yikes.
I toured one of the most active police stations in Chicago once. I'll never forget it. Deeply, creepy & disturbing.

Rita said...

Ehhh. . . not a tour. I was there to make sure my record had been expunged. In another life I was a protester, environmental causes before they were the things to do. J Edgar kept a detailed record of such things and at some point after his demise it was decided to clear those names. There were some hick-ups. I had to keep checking. And. . .there could have been a couple of other things.

J Wachowski said...

Oh that's awesome! Maybe I should check my record too? Never got chained to the fence outside a nuclear reactor, but I've dragged my kids to peace marches/rainbow parades/etc. since they were in strollers.
And maybe written a letter or two...dozen...

Elise Warner said...

Loved your blog, Julie. Informative and amusing. I love research too. You never know what you will find or--I suppose--who will find you.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Great post, J.! I love that you got to let your inner nerd-girl run free. :)

I usually make notes in big block print on my manuscript about things I have to research later, so I don't interrupt the flow. Usually, it's distances and locations for settings, but sometimes I get to research things like what kind of noise does an alligator make and what poison does a scorpion sting release, etc.

I'll have to think about if I have any research items for you - I could use the help! LOL

J Wachowski said...

How about this one Anne Marie?
http://www.fws.gov/video/sound.htm

Everything from Purple Martins to Wolfpacks ...with alligators in between. :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Julie, how long is your offer good? I detest research. Like Anne Marie, I leave myself codes in my manuscript as I'm writing (XXX -- and then I just search for XXX at the end and try to answer all the questions).

So, if you're looking for questions to answer, well, heck, it looks like we're a match made in heaven!

J Wachowski said...

Marcelle, I am your dream date. Shoot me a question whenever you get stuck! ;)

S. Parks said...

Research draws me in and eats me alive. I love it and can't quit asking one more question of the material I uncover. If it wasn't for my hubby and critique partners dragging me screaming from the internet or books or some museum, I'd still be lost on some hunt for one more fact to include in my writing.

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