I have always been an avid reader of any genre of speculative fiction, but I became a lover of non-fiction after I became became an author. Both short essays and longer books.
An author has to often be a dilettante. They must learn about something enough to write about it convincingly. I get a lot of joy from encountering the BIG Idea for a manuscript then figuring out what I need to research. As I previously wrote about in this blog post back in ’12: I do not believe in general research, I believe in specific targeted research.
I love the fact that this research builds upon itself with each story. In Other Systems, I learned about astronomy, nautical terms and what flight lessons are like and difficulties that astronauts go through in low gravity. Later, I used some of this knowledge for Unintentional Colonists and even a bit when I described the Expanse in The Martlet. And I am currently working on a short ghost story about orbital clutter that is also using some of the same research.
This is even true with the graphic novels. In Lure, I learned about a stampeder’s journey and hardships during the Yukon Goldrush and in Faminelands, I learned about archery and swordsmanship. All of that knowledge was used again in the The Martlet‘s manuscript.
Even so my research got really focused when I was working on The Martlet. So much so that my husband said it was creepy to come in our apartment and find Cause of Death : A Writer’s Guide to Death, Murder and Forensic Medicine on the the bathroom counter and On Killing and Poisons (Howdunit Series) on the kitchen table. Now there is a shelf full of books about killing, poisons, and early medical research.