Posts Tagged ‘Productive research’

What I like best about being an author…

Lady Mira with pistol

Lady Mira with pistolI 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.

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.

 So that’s my favorite part of being an author: freaking my husband out with strange facts that I have learned.
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Update on the Martlet

Sketch of Lady Mira

I think I might be freaking Dennis out– I am reading The Knife Man for research for the Martlet. If I have learned one thing throughout this process, it is how much medical science has discovered in the past two centuries. It’s actually amazing.

This is the 4th book about killing or stealing bodies that I have read this year. The crazy thing is, I didn’t have to do nearly this much research for Other Systems. Not even close. Apparently I can imagine what it might be like to be a scientist on a space mission, but imagining I am a surgeon of the assassins guild who plays with necromancy is really hard. For anyone following the project: it’s Kian’s chapters that I am having problems with–maybe I need to watch more CSI or something.

Mira, Eohan and Roark’s chapters have been complete for awhile. I also am still working on a endearment for Roark to whisper to Kian on occasion. The problem is that Kian more than any other character has had a whole bunch of bad things happen to him. There is quite a bit of names that simply won’t work. Also I wanted it to be special between them, something that neither Mira or Eohan would pick up.

And PS I do not really need suggestions. I am just letting people know where I am.

Productive Research Part 2: Favorite research sources

As I said,  directed research is very important in both novel writing and graphic novels so I thought I would list some of my favorite research sources.

Books:

I picked up a copy of the Sears Catalogue circa 1897 when I was working on Lure. Now anytime I am looking for information on wagons, butter churns, etc. I have the perfect place to find a picture of one.

The How to Draw Manga Series. While some of the titles have a bit of drawing instruction, these are mostly design books. They have a book for every general manga subject: Robots, Occult, Ninjas or whatnot. The book on ninjas has information on sword fighting, throwing stars, the correct costuming, etc.  I also like that certain moves are drawn in sequence.

The Big Blue Book of Grammar : this book is a very straight forward grammar rule book.

Websites:

Thinkbabynames.com : This is my favorite site when I’m going to work on naming characters.

Wikipedia

For my current project an epic fantasy novel with the working title of  The Martlet, I am also using these websites.

Castles of Wales

The Medieval Bestiary

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