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. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Hidden Treasure of Experiences

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.


Sandy Parks said...

I could use multiple lectures on the psychology of people and criminals to help build my characters. The Writer's Police Academy is sounding more and more like a must-do event for me. Thanks for the discussion on the topic. Also the list you posted of childhood traits was not what I expected. Interesting.

Anne Marie Becker said...

I have to go to WPA some time soon. Every year, writers rave about it. :D Some day...

Thanks for sharing your experience!

jean harrington said...

The 10 warning signs for children in jeopardy are something every writer should know. Thanks for the information.

Sharon Calvin said...

I must confess I hadn't heard about WPA until my critique partner told me about this year. It is truly a great experience. And while it's easy to only think about all the great hands-on experiences, the workshops, presenters, and other writers make it even more rewarding.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Interesting post, Sharon. The WPA is definitely on my wish list. By the way, what is Aviation Forensic Psychology?

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