This, I suspect, is something that plagues a lot of writers, but it's really hit home apropos of my murder mystery series, The Snowe Agency Mysteries, the second of which (The Dead Letter Office) just released last week. I've got a line of them ready for release, and the research for them has resulted in some searches that would look seriously sketchy to anyone who didn't know I'm a writer. These have included:
- What anesthetic available to a veterinarian would kill a human the most quickly?
- How fast does a bubble of air injected into an artery kill someone?
- Would the remains of a person poisoned to death twenty years ago still show traces of the poison?
- The behavior of psychopathic individuals
- The physiology of drowning
- How hard does a person need to be hit in the back of the head to knock them unconscious?
[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]
- Living conditions in 14th century Norway (Lock & Key)
- Communications and surveillance technology (Kill Switch)
- Ancient Greek timekeeping devices (Gears)
- Medieval Jewish mystical traditions (Sephirot)
- Creatures from Japanese mythology (The Fifth Day)
- The effects of untreated type-1 diabetes (Whistling in the Dark)
- Viking ship design (Kári the Lucky)
- The rate of spread of the Black Death in England (We All Fall Down)
- The structure of Baroque contrapuntal music (The Harmonic Labyrinth)
I was chatting with my publisher a couple of days ago, and commented that fiction should open up new worlds, that if my readers are the same when they close the book as they were when they opened it, I've failed as a writer. However, writing also opens up new worlds for the writer, lets us explore topics we'd otherwise never look into. (It's all too easy to get lost in research -- to intend to sit down and write, and suddenly three hours have gone by, and all you've done is jump from one abstruse website to another, as my friend and writing partner Cly Boehs would be happy to tell you.)
There are two things about learning: (1) it's fun. And (2) you're never done. And when it comes to writing, there are always new areas to investigate, new worlds to create.
So many stories to tell, so little time.