Behind-the-Scene: What’s in a Name?

True-crime research, novel writing research, and updates.


BLOG POST #228: This week, I’m sharing some behind-the-scene scoop on research and name selection.

Whether you’re writing a series or a solo novel, regardless of the genre, you must build a world in which the characters live.

For the School Marshal series, I knew I wanted the city to geographically be in the region where I live but have fictitious names. Read More

Citizen’s Academy Part I


Posts about real school tragedy, crime, and/or events can be upsetting.

Robin Lyons BlogBLOG POST #209: Are you interested in how your law enforcement functions? Are you a mystery, suspense, or thriller writer who’d like to know about law enforcement? This post may be of particular interest to you.

Most law enforcement agencies have a Citizen’s Academy. The one through my local sheriff department was a free sixteen-week course held one evening each week, plus one ride-along with a deputy.

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Fiction Autopsy Reporting


Posts about real school tragedy, crime, and/or events can be upsetting.

Robin Lyons BlogBLOG POST #202: This week, I’m sharing information about my autopsy reporting research.

For me, research helps me create authentic scenes and scenarios, which then brings the story to life.

When I think about the amount of research that goes into writing a book, it boggles my mind to think people did research with no internet. There was the library, of course, which at the time felt as great as the internet does now, but the information was dated.

With the novel I’m currently working on, Unknown Event, I had to dig into several areas unfamiliar to me, such as murder investigation, weapons, explosives, and autopsy reporting. Spoiler-alert: There will be death in the novel.

I imagine pre-internet, an author might schedule an interview with the local medical examiner or coroner. Maybe even observe an actual autopsy being conducted.

With the internet, you can search for real autopsy reports—they’re out there. I downloaded several for a specific type of death. There are also articles in medical journals about autopsies, and if you really want to nail the autopsy, you can watch videos on Youtube.

I download and read a lot of information even though I only use a fraction. Research can definitely be a time-suck, albeit a necessary task. You also have to pay attention to the source of information, if it’s not from a person in the profession or business or agency dealing with the area of research, I keep looking.

A few of the resources I found helpful were:

  • County of Los Angeles, Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner website had tons of information and downloadable forms.
  • Practical Pathology of Gunshot Wounds an article in the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine journal.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medical Examiners’ and Coroners’ Handbook on Death Registration and Fetal Death Reporting.

And still, I might not get something 100% accurate. I have to remind myself—its fiction.

What are your thoughts about this post? Did you enjoy the glimpse into my research? Join the conversation on the website. Your relevant comments are always welcome.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!


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