Most people never think about being on any of the police agency watch lists. But writers, well, we’re different.
Most people don’t go to the Writer’s Police Academy and find out how to get away with arson, or what types of biologic creatures you could commit a (possibly) perfect murder with, or how hard it would be to dismember a body.
Most people don’t sit in an airport and try to think up ways for a terrorist to cause, well, terror.
But writers do these things. We also search on-line for poisons, ask how fast a body could fall from a 10th floor balcony and what would happen to it when it hit, what the response time is for police in a specific town/area, and lots of other kinda creepy things.
We do this because we want our stories to be as authentic as possible. I have called a Fire Chief who does arson inspections and asked them if my scenario for a gas explosion in a house was believable. He gave me some great input on why I should change the type of trigger I was using because mine would be detectable. I had to pause then, because I actually did prefer it to be detectable. I would have a really hard time sleeping at night if I felt I was putting information out that might give anyone a really bad idea, and that it could/would work. The Chief's last words to me were, "You're not going to try this at home, right?"
I also got in touch with a university entomologist to find out if Brown Recluse venom would have any effect on a body once it was dead. I actually stumped the professor, and he had to do some checking before he got back to me.
Novels are, by definition, fiction. But in order to make the books enjoyable for our readers, writers are always told “Don’t put anything in the story that will take your reader out of it and make them want to put it down.” This applies to having stupid clues or methods or concepts that you reader would know or believe to be patently untrue or impossible or inaccurate. So this makes for a fine line for writers, especially those who write thrillers or mysteries.
It also makes me wonder if I’m on any watch lists because of my research. I know there are writers out there, really out there, with their research and the lengths to which they will go to be authentic. I’m not ready, and probably never will be, to write like that. I WANT the bad guys to get caught. I want a happy ending, or at least a satisfying one.
And if I AM on a watch list? I hope they buy my books to get the whole story before they arrest me. And I hope my friends will come bail me out. You will, right? Right?