Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All in the name of research.

Guns scare me.

I guess my fear started when I was a kid.  One night, my step brother pulled the shot gun out of his truck to go into the single wide and shoot his wife.  Instead, he got a bullet in the gut when the gun stuck behind the seat and he jerked the gun toward him, barrel first. 

Tough to manage shooting yourself with a shotgun, but he did it. And survived to marry wife number two, three, and four. 

Redneck stories from the wilds of rural Idaho.

I kid you not.

So when I started writing a thriller as part of a Masters of Fine Arts class, and my first scene is a kidnapping at gun point, I needed to research. I needed to know more about guns, what they feel like, and even, what it felt like to fire one.

Going to one of my brothers was an option, but the sane one was out of state and well, see above.

So what’s a girl to do?  I found two gun aficionados at the local watering hole, The Alibi. Recently divorced, I would stop once or twice a week and chat with anyone.  One day, I told a guy my dilemma with my stalled story and he said he owned a gun.

I peppered him with questions until he offered to take me for target practice to the desert (Warning sign #1) on the outskirts of town. 

I don’t know if it was the alcohol or the chance at researching for my craft that made me say yes.  It definitely wasn’t common sense.

The next morning, I met the guy and his buddy (warning sign #2) at the apartment complex. As they stacked an arsenal at my feet, adding duffle bags with ammo, calling out about different types of guns, I started rethinking my bright idea.

Finally, we were ready, but the guys sat on the couch and watched out the window.  When I asked when we were leaving, they informed me that a police cruiser was out front, handling a domestic dispute in a nearby apartment.  So they had to wait for the cop to leave to load the truck.  (Warning sign # 3)

By the time we got to the desert, I knew I was the target, not the shooter. 

Fred, the guy I’d met the night before, pulled the truck over, cracked open a beer, and handed me a gun. 

Not what I’d expected.  Fred carefully taught me how to hold a pistol, how to check to see if it was loaded, we practiced with the safety on, then, he pointed to my target, a can on a rock a few feet away. 

I shot so many guns that afternoon, I have no idea what they gave me.  I tried an AK-47, a shot gun, several different pistols, and a rifle.  When I’d gone through their bag of militia, we sat talking on the tail gate of the truck and had another beer. 

While we talked, I told him my stories plot and what I wanted to happen and they walked me through the type of gun that would be used.  He handed the pistol to me, I checked to see if it was loaded, then shoved the gun in my side.

The boys freaked.  Fred jerked the gun away from me and then I got the lecture about never pointing a gun at myself.

I explained I needed to know what it would feel like to my POV character, but they now looked at me like I was the crazy one.

The ride back to the apartment complex was quiet.  And I never saw Fred at the bar again.  But my chapter turned out amazing.

So what have you done in the name of research?



Callie said...

Cool story, I enjoyed it. I haven't done anything quite that bizarre yet, but I plan to badger my local bond bailsmen to follow a bounty hunter for a day for a time travel book I'll be starting the beginning of the year. I tried getting info from a law enforcement professor, and he gave me a couple of names to call.

RT Wolfe said...

Very interesting story, Lynn. Wow. Best of luck with your series!
-R.T. Wolfe

Kathleen Kaska said...

What a story, Lynn! My research never included anything as exciting. You're one brave lady. My research involves spending numerous nights in historic hotels, prowling though every nook and cranny and reading through old newspapers that relate to the time in which I'm writing. Best of luck with your writing.

Kaye George said...

I hope your fiction includes a replica of this scenario! I'm a writer because I have to get my excitement on the page. I don't think I'd be brave enough to do any of that. Hell, I'm not brave enough to go into a bar by myself.

Morgan Mandel said...

What authors do for the sake of research!

Good for you!

Morgan Mandel

Lynn Cahoon said...

Hi Callie, The bails bondsman research sounds amazing! Cool idea.

@RT - The stories I could tell. LOL Thanks for stopping in.

@Kathleen - I wonder if it's brave or borderline stupid. Expect good things, and they happen.

@Kaye - I used to go to bars just to watch people.

@Morgan, I know, right?

Thanks everyone for commenting.