2013-06-07

Random Ramblings


Research of the Weird Kind

As a writer I've had to do my fair share of research on the internet: how to ride side saddle in the middle ages, which poisonous plant will kill you the quickest, how to properly treat a snake bite . . . The list goes on. I suspect that I and many of my writer friends are on some kind of government watch list somewhere. :-)

Take for instance this conversation on Facebook one night:

Writer One: So, I don't suppose any of you guys know the best method for tanning human hide, right?
Writer Two: I'd go with the brains, myself.
Writer One: Indeed. Not sure if it will work, but given the lack of cannibals posting instructions online, I may have to actually go with pure fiction here...
Writer Two: I did find a site where you can buy products made from human leather . . .
Writer One: Well that's disturbing...send me the link?
Writer Two: http://www.humanleather.co.uk/
Writer Three: Research how the Native Americans treated scalps.
Writer One: Oh right! Why didn't I think of that?! I was looking at how they tanned hides, but totally forgot scalps. Thanks!
Writer Two: Just when you thought FB couldn't get any creepier.

That is a real website by the way, go ahead and click on it. People actually bequeath their skin to be tanned by these people.

It sometimes amazes me that the research for a story can be far more time consuming than the story itself. I spent a considerable amount of time and effort researching poisonous plants for a flash fiction story. Far more time than I did on the actual story. But I had to have just the right poisonous plant or the story wouldn't have worked.

In my forthcoming book, Magical Misfire, I have had to do far more research than I expected. It's a fantasy novel, so I can just make up whatever I like, right? Wrong. I have it set in a world that is similar to our Middle Ages, so a lot of my research has to do with things like: how did ladies ride side-saddle, what kinds of food would be served at a celebratory dinner, what were the sanitary facilities like, what would the layout be for a castle and a village. It's all in the details.

Now the snake bite research was for a science fiction novel. The hero was bitten by a poisonous snake and I wanted the heroine to suck the poison out of his leg. Guess what? People don't really do that. In fact, attempting to can actually make things worse. Good thing I checked.

This week my research was bugs. The topic for this month's blogchain for Absolute Write was bugs, and what better source for a scary story is there than bugs? So I did a Google search for scary bugs. The first article I checked out was The 5 Most Horrifying Bugs in the World. Yeah, it was truly horrifying. And I don't just mean the salty language! They have videos. Don't watch the videos. Trust me.

After checking out a couple more buggy websites and stupidly clicking on the Google images for scary bugs, I abandoned my story idea and went with something completely different. In case you missed it on Wednesday, you can find itHERE. In the meantime, I'll be sleeping with the lights on and a can of Raid close to hand.

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