A romantic suspense author's internet search history is a terrifying thing. Because we're constantly doing research so we can write from the perspectives of all sorts of heroes and villains, if something exists under the sun, chances are we've googled it, whether it's sexual, violent, or just plain weird. And we can yell to the heavens about the fictional purposes of the thing, but that's not going to keep anyone who takes a peek at our laptops from thinking that we're either a) psychotic, b) pervy, c) criminals planning a major crime, or d) all of the above.
The nature of my research habits can be summed up with a simple look at my browser's (Chrome, in case you care) search suggestions.
For example, the other day I needed to know whether all Canadian police were Mounties or if Mounties were a special group of law enforcement officers within the larger framework, and this is what happened.
I started by typing "Can," planning to type in "Canada and Mounties." Simple, right?
But before I got any further than "Can," Google took a look at my previous searches, made some guesses about the kind of person I am, and offered the following:
"Can I shoot someone who enters my home even if they're unarmed?"
And, "Can I get avoid getting extradited?"
And, "Can I get STIs from unprotected sex with a prostitute?"
And, "Can you score a goal and still have a 0 +/-?"
Okay, that last one is legitimate; it's about hockey stats. Everything else is the product of previous work-related searches. I swear.
For the record, the answers are as follows: #1 --yes, if you live in Colorado, as long as the person is using some form of force against you, although 'force' is vaguely defined, #2--it depends on where you go and what you did, but I wouldn't recommend you get legal advice from anyone but a lawyer regardless of your location or activities, and #3 is yes, you can potentially get an STI from any unprotected sex you engage in, no matter who your partner is. I hope you already knew the answer to #3, but I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't, because sex education in this country is a joke. If you want to do your own research, Teen Vogue is an excellent resource for healthy, sex-positive info and education about messed up crap like "stealthing."
Oh, and on a less-creepy note, the answer to the hockey question is yes. +/- provides (flawed) insight into who's scoring while you're on the ice. If you score a goal (yay!) they give you a point, but if you're on the ice when the bad guys score (boo!), they take a point away. So yes, it is possible for goals to cancel each other out, giving you a big, fat donut hole for your troubles. I actually already knew the answer to that one, because I'm a hockey nerd who reads about this shit for fun, but anytime Google wants to help me out with WAR analytics, sign me up. That stuff's confusing.
But I have really digressed. The point is that I've clearly been lumped into a very select group of searchers, and I'm not sure it's one that'll be good for my reputation if I don't make it clear somewhere that these searches are for fictional purposes. I do not plan to shoot anyone or commit a crime and run away to another country or have unprotected sex with a prostitute. Or any kind of sex with a prostitute, as I'm married to someone who is not a prostitute. So far as I know, anyway.
It's fiction! Hello, FBI? It's FICTION.