I was listening to an NPR interview this morning with Mark Billingham. The way he describes how he became an author, and the research he does before he puts together his crime novels, reminded me of me!
The impetus for him becoming a crime novel writer, was a true experience he had. He was staying in a hotel when he heard a knock on the door. He assumed it was room service coming to pick up his tray. Instead his room was stormed by 3 masked men who tied him up and put a bag over his head then robbed him.
But the way he gets his material for his books is similar to what I do, although not identical.. He observes the homeless, addicts, etcetera by going down to the Thames river in london at 3 am. He has learned that you should never look anybody in the eye. The difference between he and I is that, I was thrown into street life in 94, he has elected to observe it and write about it, so with him it's a choice.
Although I don't read fiction, MB and I both have similar goals and that is to write about the hidden, the invisible, the gritty side of life.........................You might want to check out his book "Lifeless"