I didn’t want my terrorist to use the usual weapons of choice. I wanted him (or her) to use a biological or chemical weapon. Chemical weapons can be very tricky and could hurt the person dispersing them. Biological weapons can be more narrowly targeted and, with proper precautions, are less likely to infect the perpetrator. So, biological it is.
I did some preliminary research to find a logical bacterium, fungus or virus and narrowed the list to three that seemed feasible in my story’s setting. This week, I solicited suggestions from a biology professor, and voila! Comparing his list and mine, there was a match.
Once I settled on the toxin, he provided additional information, expanding on what I already had learned. He also pointed me to more sources for continued research.
I need to know everything I possibly can about my biological weapon, so that characters can talk about it knowledgably, the perpetrator can use it accurately and that it is deadly.
Of course, I don’t want to provide a how-to manual for would-be terrorists, so I might leave out crucial steps or introduce the toxin in a way that would not be fatal in real life. However, terrorists don’t need me to do their research for them. For people who are interested, information on potential biological and chemical weapons is not hard to find.