When I got my very first phone call that I'd hit the 'New York Times' list, I had a small rush of 'I've made it!' But the next morning, it occurred to me I didn't know what it was, so I called my agent and asked what being a 'New York Times' bestselling author really meant. He informed me that I was now a thousand pound gorilla.
When it comes to locations, I'm one of those crazy authors who has to see it, touch it, taste it, before I trust myself to recreate it for my readers. Having said that, visiting a locked-down pediatric psych ward was the most intimidating research I've ever done - and I've visited maximum security prisons, shooting galleries, bone collections, etc.