One thing consistently surprises me when I'm writing. No matter what I'm writing about, I wind up doing research. I'm only planning on writing a few hundred words here, and I'm betting I'll probably check something at least once. I might look up the proper spelling of a word. I might go looking for a synonym of a word I've used too much. A lot of the time, I'll go surfing for names or dates or scientific facts.
Take my latest release, What Not to Fear. Over the course of writing it, I hit some odd research topics. Some of them show up on the printed page. Others wound up on the cutting room floor. Of course, a lot of what I research winds up in browser windows or .pdf files in the background of my manuscript. Every now and then, I go through them and condense all of my research into a single file.
Sometimes I imagine what would happen if some curious hacker looked through my history. One night, while working on WNTF, I found myself researching quantum chromodynamics; the Miranda script used by police officers in Philadelphia, PA; the explosive potential of C4; names of Judeo-Christian demons and Egyptian gods; Mafia crime families active in Philadelphia in the 1960s; the opening quotes from the Superman TV show; how long it takes to walk from South Street (near where Zipperheads used to be) to the Franklin Institute; the elements in DNA (just a reminder there, I teach High School Biology); and finally where the holding cells were for the Center City Philadelphia Police Department precincts in the 1960s.
Now, I know what those things have in common, but I can only imagine what some random person would come up with given that list. In fact, that gives me an idea for a contest – tell me what that laundry list brings to mind for you in the comments! One of you will receive a copy of my latest eBook, What Not to Fear! Also, remember – anyone who purchases a copy of What Not to Fear is also eligible to receive a FREE copy of the What Not to Fear theme song, Too Good to Me.
Please, come by and see me at www.robertcroman.com! My books are available at Decadent Publishing, on Amazon.com, and wherever fine eBooks are sold!
Without further ado, here's an excerpt from What Not to Fear
Michaela pulled on her overcoat. Settling it in place gave her an excuse toscratch her back. If only Mike had gotten the whole piece of marble. Not his fault it was split before she was delivered to him. Not his fault her back still itched. Once she had the overcoat’s belt firmly tied in front of her, she turned to the beanpole standing beside her desk. He was staring at her again.
“Right now, I’m investigating a murder. My primary suspect is a young man by the name of Johnny Greco, a small-time thug with delusions of mediocrity. We have the murder weapon, a cheap revolver purchased by Mr. Greco from a pawn shop on Broad Street. We have three witnesses who have Mr. Greco leaving the scene of the crime. Two others insist that they saw someone else leave, a young woman in a, quote, ‘big fancy dress, like Southern girls used to wear.’ If we went to trial right now, the defense attorney would no doubt blame it on our mystery woman. We need to find her or something linking Greco to the crime beyond a shadow of a doubt. Are you evening listening to me, Frank?”
Inspector Franklin looked down at her, a study in attentive, attractive motionlessness. After a half second, he nodded, slowly and deliberately.
“Yes, Detective. Pardon, but why are you calling me Frank?”
His voice was a subtle mismatch to his body. Where the latter was powerful and so big, it filled her whole field of vision; the former was deep, yet so soothing she nearly missed half of his words.
Michaela thought about his question. From the moment she heard his name, he was Frank. Not George; he wasn’t a knight in shining armor. Not Matthew; he wasn’t a saint or a tax collector. He wouldn’t understand either of those reasons. She shrugged, the motion making her shoulders twitch. “Franklin makes me think of a short fat guy. Frankenstein is a little harsh, even for me. Frank fits you.”
“Friends call me Matt.”
She rolled her eyes. “Right, Frank. You ready to go? I don’t have all day.”
“Has the scene of the crime been cordoned off?”
“Do we have time to examine the scene?”
“I was about to go try scaring the criminal element into giving more information.”
Matt cocked his head, inquiring. “Does that work?”
“Not often, but it’s really fun. Do you think you can get something from the scene?”
“I am almost certain I can.”
He was like a mastiff puppy, she decided. Big, ungainly, likely to make a mess of things, but desperately eager to help. Cute, too, like most puppies were.
Cute? Where did that come from? Mike, when next we meet, we’re going to have a conversation about genitalia and where they do and do not belong.
Still, sometimes puppies could find things when they dug around.
“Let’s go check out the scene.”