Connections are strange and wonderful things sometimes. For instance, my current project features female aviators and Pararescue Jumpers, and the book is set in Afghanistan. Books and Internet research are great starting points, but I wanted to go a step further and talk to people who have walked the walk, if you know what I mean.
It occurred to me that an old ball playing buddy of mine (We were on the Canada Games team together, but she went on to the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. She's one of those naturally talented athletes that the rest of us would just have to hate if she wasn't so damn nice) used to be married to a special ops pilot. I remember having an in-depth conversation about Navy SEALs and their training one of the last times I saw her when she came home from the States. You gotta admit, that's not a common thing to talk about, especially for women--and Canadians at that, eh? :) Plus, who else would have cared, let alone understood what the heck I was talking about? Love you, Jackie!
She had made many connections in her years stateside, and is now a firefighter in New Mexico. Anyhow, I shot her an e-mail asking if she might be able to put me in contact with someone who could share some insider knowledge about flying Black Hawks, and Pararescue Jumpers. Less than a day later she responded saying, "I work with a retired PJ and a retired Black Hawk pilot." Holy hell, talk about a small world!
The information I've garnered so far is invaluable, plus I love getting an inside scoop from service members that have been out in the field. This makes me odd, I know, but I have two stacks of books on my bedside table: special ops non-fiction, and romances. What can I say, it works for me. Just last week my hubby was in bed next to me reading his Sports Illustrated (unless there's a baseball article, I'm not really interested). He looks over and sees me reading a text on SERE training and says, "You're weird." Yeah, I guess I am.
This past weekend I also met with my dad's flight instructor and a retired Canadian Navy helo pilot who was involved in a crash to get a realistic feel of what that would be like for my heroine, Devon Crawford, a medevac pilot. Both meetings were incredibly interesting.
I'm having a great time researching this, almost moreso than writing it! Who knows who I'll meet next in my research travels? I can't wait to find out.
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