It’s not every day that you’re watching a program in your Netflix queue only to find that your dad’s on it.
I think the conversation with Jon went something like this –
Me: Oh wow. This one is in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Me: I wonder if my dad’s going to be in it.
(pans to shot of TV where my father’s scowling face immediately appears; camera pans back to my face, immobile with shock)
Me: Holy crap! There’s dad!
Me: No, I’m serious! Holy crap! My dad’s on this program! Your father-in-law is right there.
Jon: Um, yeah.
Honestly, Jon isn’t normally that wooden and it’s probably not even his original reaction, but I was so shocked with mine that I kinda forgot what he said, but you get the point.
I just saw my dad. On the Discovery Channel. On a detective crime program.
Okay, so yes, Dad had told me way back that he was being filmed for some program or another and I thought it was some program like I don’t know public access or something. I’m pretty sure we tried to tape it, but got the program wrong. I had completely forgotten about it.
So my dad’s talking head showing up on my television in the comfort of my living room wasn’t what I was expecting . . . so how does this tie into my blog post?
As a writer, some days I think I’ve hit the genetic lottery so to speak. I feel humbled to have grown up with a father who’s been a forensic detective my whole life and a mom who knows her way around just about any medical conundrum (my mom’s an awesome nurse practitioner). I mean, could you ask for any better parental background than crime and medicine. I mean talk about an unfair advantage, right?
I don’t blame you. I think it’s unfair, too, but I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m just now appreciating that normal kids didn’t grow up knowing what blood spatter meant or how to create a tracheostomy out of a ball point pen. I’m not kidding. If the zombie apocalypse had happened in the ’80s, I would’ve been covered by all the angles. Bullets check. A bad ass dad who knew how to use said bullets and could also give you at least a half dozen trajectory hypotheses for which way the blood would go when you shot said zombie in the head. Yeah, pretty cool, eh? My mom is also right up there in terms of coolness, but this post isn’t about her. *Sorry, Mom!
Right so where am I going with this?
Some days I forget about all that extraneous information that was lying around when I was growing up and how I can utilize it in my stories. And that’s a note to all of you other writers out there. The old adage of “write what you know,” should be amended to “write what you know or about anything that your family might be experts in”. Because alot of times, I think we forget about them. Or at least I do. Not in the “forgot to send a card” way, but more like I’ll be writing a chapter where there’s a crime scene and I’m doing internet searches to make sure that I’m staying true to actual forensic procedure.
I’m not making this up. This actually happened to me while writing a scene in Watcher. Ask me if I called my dad even once? Nope. Nada. Didn’t even cross my mind. In fact, it didn’t sink in until my dad had read the book and called me up to say that my crime scenes were pretty realistic. Did I get that from him via osmosis? I’ll never know.
So when planning that next book or scene, take a moment to to think about how someone you know may be able to help you. I know it seems so simple of a concept, but you’d be surprised how many times you forget this when you’re in the zone. That little bit of extra thought might’ve save me some time if I had remembered about my dad.
I’d like to think that seeing my dad’s face on the TV is a good reminder of this. Maybe now I’ll never forget that lesson.
And dad, that was crazy cool. Who knew you had it in you?