Countdown: 5 days


One of the things that slows me down when I’m writing (aside from self-doubt and plot issues) is the need to research my subject.  Talk to any author and they’ll tell you how easy it is to get lost in researching your topic. While I once worked with a security firm, one of only two woman amongst almost a hundred former military men (who often were armed), things have changed a lot since then. From the types of weapons they’d carry to the modes of transport to the types of threats.

In Deliberate Deceptions, Chad and Lauren are being threatened by a rogue operative from Lauren’s clandestine hostage-negotiation/rescue group, The Light Brigade.  So they are spirited away to one of Hauberk’s safe houses. But what measures would be taken to get them there? Would they be taken together or separately? I figured they’d be taken separately since they were being threatened by one person, and that gave at least one of them the chance to stay safe for the journey.  But would they be driven to the safe house? Well, first I had to figure out where the safe house was…

“We can provide a safe location for her to stay—” Sam glanced at Chad, who nodded his agreement, “—complete with armed bodyguards, and a state-of-the-art security system with around the clock coverage. But you’re going to have to let us in on the investigation she was running.”

“Fair enough.” Weir nodded.

Chad left Sam to discuss the monetary details while he considered which safe house to use and who to assign as their principal’s guards. He discarded the house in Fredrick as unsuitable. It worked fine for partners seeking distance from a vengeful ex, but with this case, they were talking a more sophisticated threat. The estate in Texas Sam had bought and fitted out the previous year was a possibility, as were the penthouse in New York, the farm just outside Atlanta, or the compound in Vermont. They’d each been set up with a state-of-the-art alarm system, along with a panic room that would be secure even if someone hit it with a hundred pounds of C-4 explosive. For some reason he couldn’t name, he ruled out Arlington. New York was out too. It had seen enough terrorism, thanks very much. He checked with the Atlanta office only to discover their safe house was in use. Which left Vermont.

(By the way, the house in Arlington Texas Chad decides not to use? That’s the house featured in Private Property.)

Next question I had to answer was, if they’re going to Vermont would they fly or would they drive?  I had them drive Chad up, but they flew Lauren around the country. But in what type of plane? A public plane? A private plane?  Or a helicopter? And what type of helicopter? I did a variation of all of the above as I followed Lauren’s route, finishing up with them picking her up in a helicopter to deliver her to the safe house. But what type of helicopter would they use?  And was it important to say what type of helicopter? Is it enough to say “the helicopter”? To me when someone says helicopter, I think of the old fashioned bubble type helicopter like they used in Magnum PI, which really wouldn’t offer much protection.

So I decided yes, I would name a specific type. But what type? Some of it depended on how many people would be accompanying Lauren. So it came down to a choice between a couple different types.  Did I have them fly in on a Sikorsky 76 civilian helicopter?

or would they use a Bell Jet Ranger?

Then I found this page and once I saw how the insides were done up, I knew that’s the type of plush interior that Hauberk might hire for its higher priced clients. (Although I’m betting in actual fact, they’d rather go less for plushness and more for functionality and practicality.)

So now my characters have arrived at this remote safe house what would they find surrounding them?  Guards, of course. Armed guards. Probably equipped with Night Vision equipment along with all sorts of serious kick-ass weaponry. So off I went to research guns…including the Carbine M4 from Colt.

What else did I need to consider?  Would they be required to wear bulletproof vests every time they went outside — especially since Lauren mentions she wants to go jogging.

She opened the closets, frowning as she examined the various track suits, T-shirts and khakis.

Her frown deepened as she fingered a black leather quilted vest. “This is all bullet proof, isn’t it?”

“Yes.” They’d protect her from close arm fire. Or a sniper. As long as it wasn’t a head shot. “For the duration of your stay here, those are the only clothes you’ll wear.”

That’s when I stumbled upon a feature CNN featuring  Miguel Caballero clothing. I had no idea there was bulletproof clothing that didn’t resemble the bulky units you see the S.W.A.T. teams wear in the movies.

Other parts of my research meant emailing people on one of my crime writer loops about scenarios and specific details. Thank heavens there are so many informed and intelligent people who so willingly answer my emails. Like the incredibly generous author and pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons who confirmed some details about postpartum depression (backing up details I’d remembered from when I was in nursing school, and others provided by a couple friends who had been diagnosed with PPD) but CJ even provided a link. (I love having places I can save/point to later in case I forget, or in case my editor questions my research.)

Thank heavens for Microsoft’s One Note that lets me keep copies of webpages and photos and such all in one place. Those Hauberk files are getting pretty full. So yes, lots and lots of research has gone into these books…

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