It’s a very satisfying thing to find someone who could (and initially does) prove to be a valuable resource.
I take research very seriously. It’s important to me that I get the facts straight, that I get pertinent information clear in my head. Fact checking is a huge part of my research. Yes, I’m a writer, and yes, I can, and do, make shit up, but when it comes to the law, or police work, or medical situations/terminology, I like to ensure that I know what I’m talking about. To that end, I’ve met with several professionals over the years who have helped me enormously in this regard.
Today, I met with a law professor, who specializes in a field that pertains with startling immediacy to one of my characters. I couldn’t have asked for a better contact, and she was the one who contacted me. Over lunch, she asked very precise questions; within half an hour she had warmed to my character, and started addressing her, and her situation, in very realistic terms. Her questions startled me with their astuteness, but didn’t stump me: Is she like this? Has this happened? What is her motivation? Why do this, and not this? Is she violent, or merely driven? Are you envisioning a court case, or will you breeze past that? She was excellent.
I spent two hours with her, and could have spent more, but the amount, the sheer staggering amount of information she provided, and could yet provide, was rather overwhelming, and so I gracefully terminated the meeting. I extended the courtesy I always do with my contacts, the promise of respectful acknowledgement, a recompense for their time (I bought her lunch), and the hope that I could return to her should I have further questions.
But there’s this: she was able to, immediately, make a connection I’d been worried about, with regard to a certain protagonist, in a certain well-touted, well known novel, and dismiss it. I was astonished. My mind had gone there, and worried at it like a dog worries a hot spot, and she had arrived there within thirty minutes, considered it, and then dismissed it. She had correctly ascertained that there was no correlation, that my character was unique and separate unto herself. I was deeply relieved. And completely unable to hide that relief.
And she said, “Your character, this girl, is well thought out, and while you haven’t fully considered all of her, she’s obviously complex, you’re presenting her in a very realistic manner. Pay attention to her motivation, whether she’s self-driven, or there’s another, underlying motivation. I’d like to know more.”
It’s an amazing thing, to create someone, from the ether, and have someone else believe in her as strongly as I do.