Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Funny Story About Research

Posted by: Marie Harte
Today I'm sharing a funny story about research. Since I'm currently using Google and entertainment media for my WIP, and since I don't know any assassins offhand, it's not that easy to do a personal interview. But then I remembered that not everyone likes to be interviewed for research, even when they say they do...

Back in 2013...
In the course of my writing my contemporary romance series, The McCauley Brothers, I describe my characters as real people. No psychics or shapeshifters, no monsters, aliens, or fetish enthusiasts. In the first book, The Troublemaker Next Door, an interior designer meets a sexy plumber. And in book two, How to Handle a Heartbreaker, the plumber’s business partner—also a plumber—falls for a romance writer. (Yes, her job is cliché, but work with me here.) I understood her easily. The plumber I needed more information on.
And now to the funny story…
A great guy referred by my mother worked on my house. The guy owns a landscaping and construction company. Therefore I felt safe asking him for a plumber to get some reference material from. Now the friend knows I write romance, so I figured he’d tell the plumber this. I got a phone number and called said plumber. I wanted to do the interview in person, but this guy wasn’t having it. From what I gathered, he was an older fellow. When he mentioned he was a busy man and would rather do the interview over the phone, because he worked for a living and didn’t “do computers,” I should have taken the hint and run.
Did I? No. I mean, the guy had agreed to answer my questions, so he couldn’t be too against helping me, right?
Uh, no. Not exactly. Not at all.
I called him last Sunday. The “interview” lasted all of three long, painful minutes. It was laughably horrible.
I rang him and cringed when he barked a hello. I reintroduced myself, and he then asked why I needed the information. When I told the older gentleman, who’d been in the plumbing biz for forty years, that I write romance, there was dead silence on the other end. Not to be discouraged, I was my normal cheerful, thankful self and asked my questions. What is common language for what plumbers do? What are the tools they use most? What types of jobs are more common than others? What are some common misconceptions about what he does?
For each question, I received short answers that didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. He wasn’t pleasant—at all—just curt and acting as if he wanted to be anywhere but talking to me on the phone. So after yet another of his one word answers, I again thanked him for speaking to me and told him I had finished. He hung up without another word.
Immediately, several thoughts went through my mind. None of them even remotely polite. That &^%^$$#$@!! What the @!#$!!!!??
But after I settled down, I shared the awful mess with a few friends, laughed at the absurdness of it all, and through another friend, contacted a nicer, younger professional who was more than willing to sit down for coffee and explain the ins and outs of plumbing.
This whole experience has taught me something. Not everyone is happy to share what they do. Of course, I had thought that since the guy had agreed to let me ask questions, the interview would proceed without issue. But I was wrong. However, even terrible events make great stories. I know I’m going to work Mr. Mean in some story of mine in the future. I have to. He was just too awful not to write about. J
And hey, he even gave me this blog post. I should thank him. But I won’t.
And now I'm writing about assassins. I really don't want to find someone to interview, you know? I think I'll stick with my imagination on that one. 
Marie Harte

NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

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