You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.
SPEAKING OF WOMEN. When I was researching RULES OF THE HUNT, my second Fitzduane thriller, I deliberately sought out a strong Japanese woman to give me some inspiration for the character of Chifune. I’m not sure whether my motives were suspect or not, but my translators turned up two—and the whole experience was extremely helpful.
I met one, who ran a department of some government agency only in her office—but I had dinner with the second on several occasions and was quite taken with her. She gave no sign that she was similarly impressed—our relationship was entirely professional—albeit very friendly—but subsequently she contacted me and suggested we meet up in New York. I didn’t accept the invitation, because I was otherwise committed at the time, but I have always regretted not doing so. She was a singularly impressive woman—not to mention attractive—and went on to fame and fortune in her own right. I rather thought she would. She was intelligent, courageous, fiercely independent, and needed no encouragement to defy convention.
THE LUCE OF THE CHASE. Currently, I am looking for a guide (and perhaps more than one) for the project I have codenamed Amber. I’d be more specific but then you would know all about my story before it is written—which would never do. Suffice to say that the kind of person I want to find, does not want to be found. If she did, she wouldn’t be the right person.
Will I find her? It will be difficult—a matter of persuasion—but I suspect I will—and the challenge is appealing in itself.
BUT WHO SHOULD YOU TALK TO? There is more to this writing game than one might think, you know. Finding the right people to talk to can make a “"vast difference when doing research—though when you start you might not know enough to know who the right people are.
I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating. The more you know before you talk to someone, the more they are likely to tell you. There are a number of reasons for this.
- Doing your homework always engenders respect.
- If you have a good base of knowledge, you’ll be more likely to know what questions to ask.
- You’ll have a better sense of when to prompt your interviewee. The art of what I call ‘The Second Question’ deserves a book unto itself. Essentially, I’m talking about follow-up questions in pursuit of a goal.
- The fact that you have been interested enough to find out a great deal tends to imply to your interviewee that you share a common interest—and people always tend to talk under such circumstances.