I just discovered I have a concerningly large number of photographs of The Voice in the pictures library of this blog. Like, five. Hmm. Anyway, onwards.
It is December 13, 2015, fifth of the last, and the prompt is the one from May 2013: “What are some of the coolest/weirdest/funniest/most disturbing things you’ve researched for a story?”
Hehehe. Wouldn’t you love to know? Of course you would, that’s why you’re here, no?
- Opium, for a murder mystery. I was fourteen. It was a terrible story. This was back in the day when I was using my parents’ computer, which had some of the most industrial-strength filters known to man and emailed said parents whenever anyone tried to open a blocked page. It blocked drugs, weapons, social networking, porn (obviously), violence, etc, etc. So I had to do my research from the Google descriptions. You know how when you Google something it gives you just a couple lines from the site so you know you’ve found the right one, and just a couple pictures in the Images result? I learned as much about opium as I needed to by judicious Googling. Then, when my mother checked the search history, I had to go lo-fi. Asked a family friend who happened to be a nurse. I wasn’t allowed anywhere near her kids for months.
- Street names for cocaine. No Google, I was savvy by this point. I went to my father’s paramedicine handbook, which has a handy chart so budding paramedics can look up what, exactly, their patient has been OD’ing on. The story this one was for is still on the back burner.
- Blood typing. This was for the original Against The Shadows, with ErinKenobi2893. At the time, I was too young to donate blood, so I couldn’t pester Blood Service people for information. On the other hand, the internet filters didn’t see the need to block it, so no big deal. Though the customized ads in Google were suggesting the weirdest things for weeks afterwards.
- Blood loss. This was after I was old enough to donate, and needed to find out whether I had to retcon the appropriate scenes in Against The Shadows. Turns out I did – no feasible way would Nasriel be fighting pirates or whatever it was she was doing after losing a liter of blood. Even if it was purple. In the interests of research: I deliberately made things hard on myself by ‘forgetting’ to eat anything beforehand, though I did obey one rule and drink a lot of water. I asked the nurse if there was any chance she could fudge the records and take a little more than she was supposed to but even ‘I’m researching for a story’ didn’t cut it there. So, in short: after losing half a liter of blood, no, you can’t run halfway across the campus and up four flights of steps, carrying your bookbag, without feeling really weird and shaky at the end of it. It was a pretty cool feeling, actually.
- Military tactics. This was for Breaking Point, and I tapped into the local friendly walking talking military database, supplemented with a few chapters of Sun Tzu. Piece of cake.
- Komari Vosa. This was weird and disturbing and raised some interesting questions. Enough said; haven’t finished the project yet.
- How to pronounce a Hail Mary in Russian. I can read some text in Cyrillic, but not that well. For one thing I have no idea where the accents go.
- How long it takes to run exactly halfway across the vacant lot a block away from the last house I lived in, while wearing a long coat and shoes that don’t quite fit, with someone chasing you. (Thirty-seven seconds.)
- How close to the house someone can to be standing for a person looking out a third-floor window to be able to read their sign language. By streetlamp. At night. I have a terribly accommodating brother. (Across the road.)
- Exactly how long it takes to get completely saturated – in the scientific sense of ‘clothing cannot absorb any more water’ on a rainy day in England. (Half an hour in a ‘storm’, all day in regular rain.)
- The exact timing for a running-away-from-the-police scene in the town I used to live in – it took longer than I expected, even though I left out the trespassing on railway land bit. (Yes, Caitie, I did, personally and in the dark, walk almost the entire route I described in the story. Don’t hyperventilate: Mr. Jigson was kind enough to escort me, so I was fine.)
Most of these, obviously, were research-by-doing. I mean, Aragorn walking a hundred miles across Rohan in a few days is one thing, he’s Aragorn, right? But when I’m writing about Jane Average getting mixed up in things far bigger than she’s ever dreamed of, there’s no point giving her Ranger-like abilities. So I have to know what’s feasible.
Cool? No. I’m a teen writer. We don’t do mainstream cool.
Funny? Depends on your point of view.
Thanks for reading. We’ll be back next month with the next of the last.
What’s your favorite of your research projects? It’s nerd-brag time, go for it! Did it involve paint?