My Autopsy Experience

//My Autopsy Experience

When I posted on my Facebook author page that I’d be visiting the hospital to witness an autopsy, I was amazed by the responses which ranged from YUCK to COOL! It’s research for my upcoming book, Deadly Bloodlines. My main character is a police officer and has a few scenes in the morgue with the pathologist and I wanted it to be as realistic as possible, but there was another reason.

I’m fascinated with forensics. Not in the creepy, I like to see bodies dissected way, but what the body can tell you after it dies, how much you learn about the person, and how they died or were killed. Not creepy at all right? LOL!

One interesting thing (there were many) was how many people were in the room and the role they played. We have this image of autopsies from TV, but it was very different. It’s a long, detailed and fascinating process that made me realize why writers (book and TV) leave out so much. All the details would bore people who aren’t interested in forensics, take up a lot of pages and time from the story, and there would be way too many characters.

While I didn’t stay long enough to watch the body cut into pieces (Had to get back to my paying day job.), I did leave my number so I could be at the next one. I definitely plan to stay through the entire process and all the gory details. I didn’t need a mask while I was there, so I’m somewhat comfortable that I won’t lose my lunch when I see the body dissected.

It was clear that I was the first author who’d gone into their morgue, which surprised me as I know many authors who go that extra mile to research their book so the scenes reflect as much reality as possible and so they get a feel of the environment. What about you?

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE IN THE NAME OF RESEARCH?

10 Comments

  1. Lorraine October 7, 2013 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    You are one, brave cookie! I would have passed out. You go way beyond dedication. But that’s what will make your book so interesting and authentic.
    A big shout out to you!

    • ElkeFeuer October 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Lorraine! You’re a sweetie for saying so.

  2. Liz McGee October 7, 2013 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Hi Elke,

    I admire you for being able to do this kind of research. Not sure I could stomach that. It is pretty cool that you got the opportunity though. I’m sure there’s so much to learn.

    I never actually realized how much research goes into a novel until I read a piece on Mitchner and all the research he put into his books and the years it took him before he actually put the novels out. But that’s part of what made his books the successes they were.

    Good luck to you with your next autopsy and with your book. Would love to read it when it’s completed 🙂

    Liz

    • ElkeFeuer October 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Liz,

      A lot of people don’t realize the effort writers put into researching their books. It’s hard work, but we do it because we love it!

      Thanks!

  3. I admire anyone who can go into a morgue and actually stay through the entire process. For my book I had to actually look up old newspaper articles from the Catholic church archives. It took me a year to get over there because it takes time out of your life to research that extensively. Secondly, I had to actually sit down and interview people. Do you know how hard that is? And then to turn around and try to put that into a book? At first I recorded a questions & answer session. Then I had to decide whether to just write it in the book that way or rewrite it into the story. I decided to rewrite it into the story and that person’s voice is heard throughout the entire book. While you can look up files there is nothing like hearing it straight from someone who lived the history because you will get little nuggets that can be priceless. And to be able to work an interview into the storyline is a feat by itself. That was the challenge I had in writing about historical, local events.

    • ElkeFeuer October 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      Hi Shirley,

      Thanks! I never realized how challenging it was to interview someone until I did it myself. Kudos to you for doing so many and compiling it for a book!

  4. Susan Uttendorfsky October 8, 2013 at 11:10 am - Reply

    I too find forensics very interesting, Elke. I’m glad you got the chance to visit the morgue!

    • ElkeFeuer October 10, 2013 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Susan! It was quite an adventure. 🙂

  5. Ryan Biddulph October 18, 2013 at 6:57 am - Reply

    Hi Elke,

    Wow, brave one you are! I could not do it. A bit squeamish, but of course, your desire to get the facts and accurately depict this scene trumps any other fears you might have.

    Neat stuff and great blog Elke!

    Ryan

    • ElkeFeuer October 18, 2013 at 9:20 am - Reply

      Thanks, Ryan!

      Yeah. It’s amazing what we’ll overcome for something we’re passionate about. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

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