Someone asked me a while ago if I preferred writing fiction or non-fiction. That’s difficult to answer because they both have elements that I enjoy. Research is obviously important in doing non-fiction although with my novels, I try to be careful with the technical pieces. I have been able to meet some great people, mostly by telephone, but many in person, as I do my research. The most research intensive was Islands in the Sand: An Introduction to Artifical Reefs in the USA, and I spoke with more than two dozen experts when I was working on that one. All of them were interesting and a few tipped into the fascinating category. The individuals who served on the USS Spiegel Grove were a lot of fun, too, and had some great stories. (Groupers and Gun Mounts: Inside the USS Spiegel Grove.)
On the mysteries side, I happen to have members of my family who are lawyers and judges, so that gives me the expertise I need when I have legal situations as part of a book. With that said, I received a telephone call that was utterly delightful from the real live treasure hunter who was the inspiration for the character of Captain Rory McFadden and the treasure operation depicted in Deadly Doubloons. (The actual link to this individual was through my scuba-diving, underwater photographer, treasure hunter banker friend who urged the idea for Doubloons.) Anyway, the real-life treasure hunter spends most of his time in the Caribbean and happened to be in Miami for a short stay. My banker friend called as they were finishing up lunch so the treasure hunter could tell me how much he enjoyed Doubloons. He said I nailed the characters and he loved the plot.
While it is always a pleasure to hear when people enjoy a book, it is especially nice when one of the experts that I depend on confirms that I “got their part right”. And unfortunately, I lost track of the pathologist who was really helpful during my work on Shades of Truth. In fact, he gave me so much information that I’ve been able to kill of several characters based on that one session that we had. You just never know when that kind of information will come in handy.