“Googling guns again? Be careful with your hard-drive,” says my student Dr. M, the forensic psychologist (she knows about these things), “Imagine what the repair shop will think!”
Dr. M is quite right.  My crime thriller has necessitated huge amounts of research on the M16 and its handy single shot or rapid repeat function.  I know all about the pros and cons of loading one’s 357 Magnum – “the man stopper” – with lightweight JHPs or jacketed hollow points. I am totally cognisant of the defensive capabilities of the Mac 10, “the Spray and Pray”.
As a result, my hard-drive would make a fascinating and highly-incriminating study for Special Branch or Anti-terrorism. This is yet another reason to aim for publication – if I can brandish a hard copy of my best-seller at the Armed Response Unit as they kick down my front door, I’m sure they’ll see reason.  I’ll rely on the Pete Townsend “just-doing-research-on-kiddie-porn-sites” defence – it worked for him.
Of course, the Internet provides vast and beguiling research resources which can be both a boon and a distraction for the writer. Thanks to Google Earth, I have visited parts of Kingston, Jamaica, that I’d be too wimpy to explore in person.  When looking for a home for Guncourt, my illegal arms-dealing character, I liked the sound of Majesty Gardens in Denham Town but for all I knew it could’ve been industrial units.  Google Street View revealed it to be the perfect location right down to the graffiti on the zinc fence and the paunchy guy in a vest.  My action sequences gained credibility once scary Americans on You-tube had talked me through slide actions and single trigger pins so my characters now lock and load in convincing detail. A whole shoot-out scene became more dramatic when a quick Google proved that my bad boy villain could load his Glock 17 with an oversized Korean-made KCI clip containing 33 rounds thus upping the body count and facilitating pages more mayhem.
On the downside, my work-in-progress did not benefit much from watching Kingston Hotgals on You-tube though I did learn that being twenty-one stone is no bar to wearing red PVC shorts and looking “sexy bad”.  I was seduced by a phone-filmed movie, set in the notorious Tivoli Gardens, starring two seven-year-old ghetto-ites who address each other as “dog”.  Although I was charmed by their adventures in search of money for a bulla (a kind of bun), I wasted ninety-minutes valuable writing time. Internet research easily becomes a displacement activity when what you really need to do is write.  So nuff said, I am back to work before the boys in blue come to confiscate my Mac…
Ardella Jones