|Writers' Police Academy 2015|
I attended the Writer’s Police Academy for the first time this year. The Academy gives writer’s hands-on experiences and access to resources for their story research. But some of the best information came from the lectures I attended. Where else do you have access to a coroner who talks about processing a crime scene to what happens in an autopsy? (And what you can really learn from maggots!) Or listen to a forensic psychologist who has studied serial killers and who gave us insights in to kids who kill and some of the reasons they do. Police officers, detectives, and retired secret service personnel made up just some of the talented speakers who gave lectures at the academy.
|Franz Demonstrating a "Bite"|
|Franz Alerting on Drugs|
Yes, I enjoyed the hands-on portion, but wasn’t able to attend all of the ones I wanted, the workshops, however, were in no way a poor second to the more active sessions. The quality of the speakers, their presentations, and the Q&A sessions addressing specific story questions were equally entertaining and informative.
Since I had a background in psychology (even considered going into Aviation Forensic Psychology when I went to graduate school) I attended two workshops presented by Dr. Katherine Ramsland. The first was on Kids Who Kill and Why and the second was an Overview of Forensic Psychology. I don’t currently have a story in mind that I can directly apply this new-found information, but that’s the beauty of research—it can come in handy in unexpected ways.
My current work in progress does have two children—one a twelve-year-old boy who has just lost his mother, and the other a six-year-old girl who is anything but typical with her near-genius IQ. Getting a glimpse of how children’s minds develop can be used for all characters—normal, gifted, and disturbed. Research can happen in the most unexpected ways!
As a writer, we need to be open to experiences, absorbing off-hand remarks and lectures with equal attention to detail. When you meet someone new, find out what they do for a living, what kind of activities they do for fun, what kinds of life experiences they’ve had. You never know when it might find its way into a character or a plot point.
I met a wide assortment of authors at the Writer’s Police Academy, their own lives as varied as the stories they write. One traveled all over the world following the path from a diary written in the 1800s, another had discovered amazing historical details she was incorporating in her mysteries and had us all fascinated by them during a chance breakfast meeting.
I have every intention of attending the academy next year, because you never know what you’ll learn, or who you’ll learn it from—one of the many fantastic presenters—or one of your fellow writers.