Did you know, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria let go of 14,000 employees in its secret police? At the same time, it stopped paying all the wrestlers, boxers, and weight lifters it had on the payroll. Yeah, they paid hundreds of athletes so they could dominate certain sports in the Olympics. But after the Iron Curtain fell, all those jobs went away.
What happens when thousands of secret police and hundreds of major league athletes are suddenly unemployed?
Crime. Beware unemployed young men with training in weaponry, strong arming, and criminal contacts. The Bulgarian wrestlers were soon tops in the Europe's largest car theft ring, moving stolen vehicles from countries like Germany to the Balkans and Easter Europe. Former members of the secret police used their extensive networking contacts to form multi-national organized crime syndicates that moved arms, drugs, cigarettes, and women for sale all over the world.
This is the sort of thing I'm learning as I research my next book. I love research. It gives you all kinds of ideas, sets you off on flights of fancy, solidifies the backgrounds of your characters, sends you away in different directions than you ever dreamed. It's this whole discovery phase where you start to figure out what your book is REALLY about.
So will the facts about the Bulgarian secret police, wrestlers, weight lifters, and boxers end up in my book? You know, I think they might, in an oblique way. A shadowy character is actually Bulgarian, and I just might've figured out some crucial elements of her background, thanks to this research.
But before I decide for sure - more research!