I had no business writing about the FBI. Really. When I started Trust and Deception, I was a 14-year-old, homeschooled girl writing about a 34-year-old man in the FBI. What’s wrong with this picture? I had pretty much no knowledge about the FBI and its inner works.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to write this book alone. God was with me every page of the way, and He provided contacts to help me reach my standards of accuracy. In May of 2010, less than a month after Sean was born, I started asking for help. Somehow I found this page of the FBI’s official website. I couldn’t believe it. Really? I could email the FBI and ask for help with my story?
I sure could, and I sure did. *gulp* I emailed the Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit of the FBI. (I was referred from one person to another as a writer with questions for “a novel,” and I thought, Oh, please, my story won’t be a novel. I had no idea what God would do.) This unit set me up with the wonderful Special Agent who would be my FBI Consultant for the next three years, answering my emails and taking my phone calls even after his retirement. Thank you, Steve. I hope God honors you for your all your work, paid and unpaid.
My three other “consultants,” as I like to acknowledge them, were already in my life before I started Trust. Two were actually in my church. I’m very thankful to Mr. Jim (my Firearms, Vehicles, and Explosives Consultant) for providing the practical knowledge I didn’t have; to Mrs. Maldonado (my Medical Consultant) for answering all my countless questions in person and on Facebook; and to Susan (my Jedi Master) for being my dear friend, kindred spirit, and gracious mentor. Trust wouldn’t be the same without all of your generous help.
In the beginning of Trust, I also read some informative books: The Last Undercover by Bob Hamer, Making Jack Falcone by Joaquin “Jack” Garcia, Priceless by Robert Whitman, and The Bodyguard’s Story by Trevor Rees-Jones. These books proved helpful in letting me see life through the eyes of FBI Special Agents and a celebrity’s bodyguard.
My most common tool in research, however, was Google. I would love to know how many hours I spent researching the internet for everything from sprained ankles to helicopters, celebrity staff to drug dealing, ICU procedures to weather reports. You name it, I Googled it.
Thanks to all these sources, I learned a lot of interesting things in my research. It was hard to leave out facts that, though fascinating, just weren’t necessary to the story.
- Did you know that the reason why your skin goes cold and pale when you’re seriously injured is because the blood that would go to your skin is diverted to your major organs to keep you alive?
- Did you know that if someone drowned but has no water in his lungs, it usually means he was dead before submersion?
- Did you know that vehicles seized by the FBI in stings are often “recycled” for agents to drive on undercover assignments?
- Did you know that basketball players can’t go right from high school to the NBA?
It also makes for good humor when a family member accesses the same web browser for personal research. You know you wrote an FBI novel when your dad goes to type in “www.homedepot.com” and the suggested result is a page on home surveillance systems. I laughed so hard.