Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cathy Pickens

From the Novel Journey interview between Kelly Klepfer and author Cathy Pickens:

Have you ever had one of those awkward writer moments where you got “the look” from the normals? Example, you stand at a knife display at the sporting goods store and ask the clerk which would be the best to disembowel a six-foot man.

I try not to do things that are too weird. Writers work best when they are observers, not performers.

I know I should have a humorous response to this, but I cringe a bit a the question because I recently talked to a new writer who was surprised when someone who answered the phone at the regional FBI office wouldn’t answer her question about the best way to destroy a body or some such question. Writers should strive to be professional.

Not that I haven’t asked questions like, “How much dynamite does it take to blow up a building?” but only of someone with whom I’ve taken the time to develop a professional relationship.

If I wanted to know about disemboweling a man, I would first study “Gray’s Anatomy” (please, the textbook, not the TV show) and comb through medico-legal books to see if I could find examples. (You’d be surprised what’s out there.) I would then ask a medical doctor, a medical examiner, or even a hunter for specifics. (Around here, I could find an ME who is also a hunter.) Let’s face it, some clerk in a knife store isn’t likely to know what you need to know.
Read the complete Q & A.

The Page 99 Test: Hush My Mouth.

--Marshal Zeringue