Writing Research

When you’ve lived with yourself for five decades, there are certain things you come to accept:

1) I don’t like cooked vegetables—I don’t have sensitive taste buds and eating is a texture thing for me … cooked veggies are really mushy.

2) I’m a terrible driver—I wouldn’t admit this in front of my kids and especially not to Mr. Nina, but it’s a fact and I’m learning to live with it (and avoid really busy roads).

3) Spontaneity went the way of my bikini. I plan or don’t bother.

4) I’m a risk taker—Though years ago this meant sky diving, snorkeling with barracudas and shooting rapids in an inner tube. But the most risky thing I do these days is not take my calcium and vitamin D and drive my electric wheelchair in high gear after two glasses of wine. Regardless, risk taking is still a part of who I am.

5) I’m a scientist—in every cell of my being, down to the last nucleus, there is a geeky scientist intent on doing research and learning everything she can about the world around her.

And it’s the last part that’s carrying me through this crazy world of writing novels. You see, when I was in high school and college, I was the kid everyone hated. When a research paper was assigned, I jumped in with both feet, happily spending hours at the library with periodicals and encyclopedias. (Remember those days?) I had my little index cards all color coded with quotes and factoids. I wrote until my hand was numb and usually turned that 5 page term paper assignment into a dozen pages of amazing prose.

Yeeeeeah, I screwed up the bell curve, but I couldn’t have been happier.

I know some of you are wondering what this has to do with novels and the answer is EVERYTHING. There isn’t a book I’ve written that didn’t require some kind of research on my part. Once it was to discover the chemical process of cat leukemia, which I based a deathly poison on. Then there was the time I went to the fire station to talk with the fire chief about all their equipment so I could write a vampire-firefighter. I’ve researched werewolf legends and faeries, even delved into the world of BDSM for a couple of my books. (And that’s when research can be a dirty word 😉 ) I love learning new things. Though I will confess sometimes research for one or two lines in a book can take me hooours.

I’ve never been able to type “research X here” and move on with a scene without running over to the internet and actually doing the research. I just can’t keep going forward until I know exactly how that little fact niggling in my brain is going to affect the story. Fortunately, over the years I’ve learned where to find a lot of the stupid things I want to know, so my research is definitely more efficient.

I love this writing gig. It’s like still being in school and learning something new every day. ‘Cuz if you know anything about it me, I’m really geeky that way. What about you? Have you done any really interesting research?

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