Well, it feels like it, sometimes.
More accurately, it's a story from the last halcyon days of high school. In those days, in Ontario, there was a fifth year of high school, designed as a university-prep year. I went to France between grades 12 and 13, so when I got back, I still needed to do that final year but most of my friends had left the school in favour of the local university. Meanwhile, while I was away I developed a long-distance love-by-letter by the name of Piet. By September of that year (1994) we'd been dating for almost two months.
During the spring semester, I took a course called Writer's Craft. It was an OAC (that is, university-prep) writing course, and it was taught by the most eccentric teacher in the school, called Mr. M, or more commonly, the Tyrant. He had a glass of water on his desk all the time, long before bottled water had become fashionable; he dressed in threadbare, button-down, short-sleeve shirts, year round, in his glacial basement classroom; he had his desk on the pedestal at the front of the room and all the student desks arranged in a semi-circle out from it, so students had to crane their necks to see him; and he liked to shout quips at people, following them with a loud guffaw that made him more than one enemy amongst the students.
Every OAC class had a Final Project that was generally spoken of in hushed, despairing tones. All of these were generally due about three weeks before exams, depending on how much of an oral presentation was required for them, and it was not uncommon to see students juggling posters, cue cards, videos, and sometimes guest speakers, for two or more presentations within a day or two of each other. As university prep went, it was quite effective. The final project for Writer's Craft with Mr. M was to choose an author from a long list he had, read and study at least two books by that author, and then write a story in the style of that author. The list included some very well-known people, some who should have been well-known but weren't, and some that didn't deserve much beyond a space on the shelves at the local used bookstore. On that list were Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and about two dozen others. I had no real interest in reading most of them, but I had to choose one.
Having recently gained access to Piet's library, and encouraged by him, I decided to do Raymond Chandler, author of "The Big Sleep." It was a good book. I enjoyed reading it, even while finding the note-taking to be tedious. I was quite diligent at it, though. I read with a pencil in one hand and a notebook on my lap, noting turns of phrase, vocabulary, setting details, plot twists - anything I thought I'd be able to use in my story.
Piet suggested one or two other books for research into Chandler and his writing style. One of them was a collection of essays, some of them autobiographical, by Chandler, which contained one of the more memorable pieces of wisdom I've ever used: he said that all great literature had in it an element of redemption. Ever since, I've tried to make sure all my characters had that, and it has never failed me yet.
The other main piece of non-fiction that I used as a resource was a roleplaying game called Justice Inc.
Many of you are familiar with it. At that time, I hadn't ever played a roleplaying game. I knew about them, mostly from Piet of course. I had long since gotten past my narrow D&D-is-the-devil's-tool outlook shared by so many at my church, and I was willing to be convinced. Piet pointed out that many RPGs (at least, the well-researched ones) contained a surprising amount of real information about the eras in which they were set, and they often differentiated clearly between what they'd found in history books, and what they'd made up. Justice Inc. was a superhero game set in the 1930's. It was an excellent source for setting and slang, and fit perfectly with my subject. I couldn't have gotten away with using it in any class where sources had to be academically credible, but Mr. M was not that kind of teacher. He liked seeing people make use of unusual sources, though he would roast anyone who did it poorly.
My project got an A. Mr. M praised it to the skies. In that class, it was enough to solidify some bad feelings towards me, but those had always been there and it was the last three weeks of high school. It also solidified my relationship with Piet. We had learned that we had similar tastes, and the ability to pick information from unlikely sources.
I was reminded of this today, by Piet's explanations about Dentists and Drugstores in Depression-era pulp fiction. You see, several major plot points in my story happened in a drugstore, including an important anonymous telephone call and a meeting over a couple of sodas, late at night.
In my story, the druggist was one of the main suspects. He wasn't guilty, though. The worst he did was traffic in some morphine.