Facts are an important element of fiction. Still, one of my least favorite things about writing is research. I didn’t do much for my first two novels, because I pirated the plot ideas from real-life experiences. My third book involved a considerable amount of investigation and my fourth is going to require even more effort.
The main character in my novels, Tucker Sinclair, drives a Porsche Boxster. Since I don’t have one of my own, I periodically visit dealerships around Southern California, and when nobody’s looking I snuggle into the leather seats and clutch the steering wheel while my head-voice goes Vrooo-om! I know a Boxster S owner who answers arcane questions like “Where’s the clock located?” I also lurk on a Boxster chatroom, which always produces a wealth of attitude and information.
The Boxster S-guy has never offered to take me for a spin in his car, but on Friday I was invited to ride shotgun in a Porsche Cayman for the Zone 8 Cayman Club’s Turkey Run, a road rally to Palm Desert, California.
At O’dark-thirty the morning following Thanksgiving, I was fastened into my seatbelt and ready to roll. Fog shrouded coastal Los Angeles as we raced east on the 10 Freeway. Traffic was relatively light, which meant we could go fast.
The Cayman’s owner had the alarm set to beep when his speed exceeded 82. Trust me, there was a whole lot of beeping going on. The car has a spoiler that deploys at 75 mph and that baby was working overtime. Once or twice I glanced at the speedometer—88, 93. All I could think about was—speeding ticket! Not my problem. Intrepid researcher that I am, I settled back to enjoy the show. It was a kick being in the presence of so much power.
The widely dispersed Cayman Club members agreed to rendezvous at a pre-arranged intersection in Lake Elsinore. On the way there, we traveled down the quaint main street and breezed through the urban sprawl just outside of town. We arrived a few minutes early and pulled into the parking lot of a downtrodden strip mall. The driver turned off the engine and we waited as a molten-butterscotch sun broke through the translucent haze.
A short time later, flashes of color whizzed past my field of vision—yellow, gray, black, yellow—coupled with a familiar melody, Vroom, Vroom, Vroom, Vrooom, Vroooom, Vrooooom, Vooooom! The engine started. We pulled onto the highway and became the eighth Vroom. Eight Cayman’s in a row. Racing through early morning fog on the road out of Lake Elsinore.
The fog burned off as we traveled the back-roads of Hemet and into the rugged desert mountains along State Route 74, a scenic highway that runs from Palm Desert in Riverside County westward to San Juan Capistrano in Orange County. We zipped past stately pines and scruffy chaparral topped by wispy cirrus clouds ambling across an aquamarine sky. We stopped at the summit of a pass that offered a panoramic view of the Palm Desert valley.
A woman from the Navajo Nation was selling jewelry displayed on blankets spread out near the edge of the cliff. I was inspecting a pair of silver dream-catcher earrings when I heard the driver shout, “We have to go NOW or they’ll leave us in the dust!”
Porsche guys have many good qualities, but apparently patience isn’t one of them. I ran for the car and strapped myself in as I watched the Caymans peel out of the turnout and speed down the mountain, one by one.
We stopped for lunch in Palm Desert where I had an opportunity to ask the Porsche-guys questions, like why they’d chosen a Cayman above all other Porsche models. They said she was eye candy. They loved her power, the way she handled, how her wheels gripped the road, and how her mid-engine design is logical and mechanically perfect for performance driving.
We discussed the fine art of airing the tires and how many “fix-it tickets” you could expect to accumulate before you were forced to attach the front license plate, a maneuver that requires holes be drilled into the bumper—a sacrilege to a Porsche owner. They also told me that Tucker had to dump her Boxster and buy a Cayman. They dangled a carrot. If she got a Cayman, they’d let her join the Club. Tucker and a bunch of Porsche-guys. What a sweet deal.
After lunch we headed homeward. By that time I’d taken a lot of notes. Hopefully they’ll help when Tucker and her Boxster get into another scrape.
Research. It’s a tough job but every writer has to do it. Vrooo-om!