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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Author Insight: Research (Yes, I Googled it.)

What is the weirdest thing you've researched for a novel, and did it spark any sketchy Google searches?

"I do enjoy reading up about poisons, electrocution, decompression illness, and other horrible things that can happen to the human body. Then I enjoy writing about them in grim, gory detail." - Amy Kathleen Ryan, author of Glow.

"When I was working on the description for a Spanish male protagonist in one of my books, I was trying to go off of a picture, so I Googled 'Hot Teenage Latino Boys'. It was not my proudest moment." - Brodi Ashton, author of Everneath.

"You know, I’ve looked up strange sexual practices at one point for a story, and unfortunately some of the links that were presented to me for weeks afterward were pretty sketchy. Fortunately, I seem to have lived it down, since I never clicked on them." - Anna Sheehan, author of A Long, Long Sleep.

"Not sure how weird it is but I did have to do a lot of research on precisely what crops and animals a community like the one in the book would need to be viable, as well how much land and people it would take to maintain it. Luckily my Dad grew up on a farm in Colorado so he had all the answers. No questionable google searches needed." - Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague.

"Probably alchemy, which has some of the most obscure language and imagery I’ve ever seen. It’s followed closely by ‘the method of loci’ or ‘memory palace’ – a mnemonic technique ancient Romans used to remember and order knowledge. If one took a mental walk around a memory palace, one would encounter objects that would represent pieces of information (not unlike virtual folders on a computer desktop). That’s about as sketchy a Google search as I’ve ever made!" -Teresa Flavin, author of The Blackhope Enigma.

"I use Google all the time. I don't know how I survived without it. I don't know if this qualifies as weird, but I needed to name a farm that was run by nuns for The Dead And The Gone,  so I searched for patron saints of agriculture. I doubt a single one of my readers cared that I picked an appropriate name!" -Susan Beth Pfeffer, author of Blood Wounds.

"For The Beginning of After, I had to find a way for Masher the dog to get suddenly, gravely ill, so I was playing around with disturbing search phrases like, 'How to make a dog very sick.' Needless to say there were a lot of results I didn’t click on!" - Jennifer Castle, author of The Beginning of After.

"Hell Houses were probably the oddest thing I researched, and that was for Small Town Sinners. But I did it in person instead of online, though later I googled things like "burger baby" (read the book and you'll see what I mean)." - Melissa Walker, author of Small Town Sinners.

"Besides researching the sexualization of young girls, which really makes me angry… I think researching knife wounds and their healing times is about it. There was also calling the police station and asking a bunch of questions about murders, SWAT teams, and officer hierarchies. That was fun!" - Julia Karr, author of XVI.

"I love Google and I’ve ended up following some weird links, but it’s all so fascinating because one thing leads you to another and next thing you know, two hours have passed and you still haven’t answered your original question. I’m not sure what was the weirdest thing – maybe my research into The Avesta?" - Kiki Hamilton, author of The Faerie Ring.

 "I've researched 18th century medicine and battlefield amputation, although so far I haven't written either in a book (but that might soon change). ...being very squeamish I am always like, 'WHY do I do this to myself??' I research weird things so often I can hardly remember any of them. You also develop strange pockets of knowledge. I learned so much about automata and mechanical music while researching Magic Under Glass, and then while writing Between the Sea and Sky, my days were filled with books about the Grand Tour and pictures of Italy from above. For Magic Under Stone I read a ton of books about nature in New England, especially in the winter. I live in Florida (for now), I had to take a lot of notes on describing snow and ice!" - Jaclyn Dolamore, author of Between the Sea and Sky.

Come back Thursday to learn what strange things the other authors have researched!
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