by Brian Pinkerton

This essay originally appeared on the Dorchester Publishing/Leisure Books website

    It’s only a matter of time. The FBI will show up at the door, two grim-faced agents in blue windbreakers, flashing badges. They’ll confiscate my computer, where the incriminating evidence gathers in the internet cache.

Yes, that’s where they’ll find a record of my excursions into chat rooms for street gang members who brag about recent killings or threaten one another with new bloodshed. They’ll see that I have prowled web sites devoted to buying and using firearms. They’ll discover that I have spent time at an online tutorial for starting a drug dealing enterprise.

And if they checked my car or writing desk, they would find ominous notes to myself, things like “shoot Douglas Decker in teeth” or “secret killing network meets at Traveler’s Inn.” If that’s not bad enough, in the basement, there’s a file filled with news clippings about abducted children. Did I mention my inquiry into human sacrifice?

Please, let me explain.

I write thrillers. But I don’t live a thrilling life. So I need to do my research. My most recent book, Vengeance, features a bunch of really evil people: a vicious gang leader, a sociopath drug dealer, a ruthless network of assassins, and, God forbid, even a lawyer. Since I am not any of these things, I go online and I go to the library. I collect information.

I also brainstorm narrative elements and plot twists whenever I have a spare moment. I scribble them on scrap paper – often while driving (kids, don’t try this at home).

If you come across a napkin with “brain crushed by Academy Award” scrawled across it, don’t be alarmed, it’s only a note for my next book. If you happen to see my handwritten checklist for kidnapping a baby, that’s just part of an outline for a previous book, Abducted.

I don’t commit or condone any of these acts or behaviors. It’s just raw material feeding the final manuscript. It’s part of my job.

So please understand all this when I am taken away by the authorities for suspicious behavior. I will probably be questioned at an undisclosed location. I might be roughed up a bit, or maybe deprived of food, water, sleep, and a toilet. In the end, they might even force me to sign a confession to put me away for good.

You can help come to my defense by explaining that I am nothing more than a fiction writer, conducting due diligence for my make-believe stories about the classic confrontation between good and evil. I did it all so that I may better entertain you and treat my subject matter with authenticity. Despite all the things you might find inside my PC and elsewhere, I am not a criminal by any stretch of the imagination.

Just don’t ask where all those Pink Floyd mp3s came from.

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