I did not. My crime novels are free of anybody I personally know (aside from minor influences). If I was related to any cop or criminal, or even just somebody in dire straits of some kind, I might have some framework on which to hang a main character, but I don't.
That kind of proximity would be useful. Us crime writers are fed so much of the milieu through novels, TV shows and movies, it would be nice to temper that hearsay -- most of the time it's double hearsay in fact -- with some solid first-hand knowledge.
On the other hand, we are all repositories of information, and when you get serious about writing, it's also time to get serious about research. Read books written by those with more exotic lives, or check out the case law, available to anyone via the CanLII website. Listen to podcasts. Watch documentaries. Then throw yourself into the scene with all the power of your imagination. Take your own experiences of fear, guilt, sorrow and glory -- such as they are -- and overlay that on your fiction.
That's what I do as best I can, and really it's what I like most about writing: being there, not here, long enough to lay down another great scene.
Some may beg to differ about all of the above. How can you write about cops and killers when you've never even met either? What a phony you must be. I do worry about that sometimes. But not enough to cease and desist.
By the way, if you're in or around Nelson on Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m., I'm launching COLD GIRL, the first in my series -- set in northern BC, where I first began writing -- and would love to see you there.And finally, a note of apology: Neither of those two in the photo are Dennis, who doesn't exist. I just like to add a photo to break up the text. It's an older snapshot of my son and brother, and they're wearing shades, and that's about as close to edge as my family will - hopefully - ever get.