I’m a fairly quiet and shy person. When I need to do research, I’d rather browse the internet, reading what’s been posted by people before, and not really interacting with them. For this NaNoWriMo, I’ve got a story in mind that required a very specific type of research.
I have a character who has a prosthetic leg. I’m not unfamiliar with prosthetics, as a geriatric nurse, I’ve helped a number of patients putting theirs on, and taking it off… I can even tell you that the majority of my patients have named their prosthetic, Peggy. As in, peg-leg?
My character is a teenager, much more active than most of my geriatric patients, and I needed to know the difference between prosthetics for different activities. Someone in my writing group suggested I contact someone in our area who is known for building prosthetics, and I decided to actually call and ask questions. I wrote up a whole list so that I wouldn’t look dumb while speaking to him. I wanted to appear informed and also professional.
When he answered the phone, we chatted for a few minutes about my book’s premise and what I wanted to do with it. Finally, I opened with my first question: Do you know of any prosthetics that are available that would allow someone to mountain climb?
There was a long silence on the other line before he responded: Yes. I’m the one who invented it.
I realized that after all my research, I should have researched him a little bit, but he was very gracious and answered the rest of my questions. And I am so grateful to my friend for convincing me to call him.