Strange Research

I write paranormal stuff.  To a point this is because I love it and am fascinated by the possibilities.  It’s also because it tends to require less research.  See, I’m GREAT at research.  It’s part of that Evil Day Job training. One does not go through grad school for an academic degree in a science or social science without being good at research.  And I’m almost TOO good in the sense that in the past, I have often gotten obsessed with “getting it right,” to the exclusion of anything else.

But even writing paranormal I still have to do some research.  Locations.  Fighting styles.  Mythology.  Folklore.  And I never know what else.

This week’s strange search topics: search and rescue and scent cones.

Orlando, Fla., June 4, 2005 -- Urban Search an...
Image via Wikipedia

Elodie’s interest in and background in search and rescue will play a role in Red. It comes from her backstory, and will wind up lending credence to her survival skills later in the story.  But it was the scent cone stuff that had me off on a tangent last night.  This stuff is fascinating.  From what I’m reading, scent particles fan out in a sort of funnel (called the scent cone), and are affected by all kinds of stuff like temperature, humidity, wind, barometric pressure, terrain, surfaces…  And it all makes a difference to how a dog–or a werewolf on the verge of turning–can track it.  So I’ve got to take what I’ve been reading and apply it to this scene where she’s starting to embrace the wolf and actually USE the superior sense of smell to track a guy who’s gone missing.

What are some of the stranger things you’ve wound up researching for a book?

12 thoughts on “Strange Research

  1. I recently researched the demon for The Board Game of Death. I was very surpised to find the creature I thought up, really existed in mythology. Kind of freaky in a way.

  2. Mmm, writing research! For a while I was all about researching abandoned buildings and cities. I can’t really think of anything strange about that except for the look I get from my boyfriend when he sees me looking at more pics of Pirpyat and Chernobyl.

    A good friend of mine spent some time delving into topics on divorce (laws and process and stories) and we had a good laugh about what her husband might think if he were to stumble on some of her good searches.

    I think writers and researchers are similar in a curiosity about the world and a love of knowledge.

    1. Oh you’d like this…there’s a really cool group on Livejournal called abandonedplaces. It’s a bunch of photos that folks post of…well abandoned places. Really interesting stuff and great for setting!

      1. Thanks you! I’m actually already following them. I love it. There’s also “deadmachinery” and “urban_decay” on LJ, in case anyone else might be curious. Setting is a weak spot of mine when it comes to writing, so watching all these communities and pictures of buildings really helps.

      1. I lived in New Hampshire when I was very small (just learning to talk) and northern Maine in grade school (yeah, I still flatten my R’s and broaden my A’s LOL). There they were grinders. And in Maine, if you ordered a milkshake, they gave you shaken milk. If you wanted ice cream mixed into it, you ordered a frappe. I also learned how to read traffic signs in both French & English.

        I live in sub & milkshake land too. Nice to be in civilization. LOL

  3. While researching the trilogy of novels that I am currently working on I stumbled across things that were not necessarily strange but rather disturbing, such as the extensive torture techniques employed by the British going back over the centuries, which included a belt like contraption that goes round the shoulders and under the feet. This was then tightend until….. well I won’t go any further I am sure you can imagine it. (If you can I appolgoize for the image.) …Incidentally I am not completely crazy, the novels take place in the 18 different levels of Hell.

  4. Does Norse mythology count? Just trying to figure out how the Nine Worlds relate to one another is a bit mind-bending. There are a few models and theories… 🙂

    For my current project, I have been researching the Wars of the Roses, ancient charters, the history of the Gambia, and Foreign Office procedure for a community in Britain declaring its independence as a nation. Still working on that last one… 😀

  5. I’m an obsessive researcher as well, which for me, doesn’t fare so well when I need to actually write. I’ll spend hours researching what I wanted to research, which will lead me to this and that, stuff that’s not even related. It’s almost like I play the 6 degrees of Wikipedia sometimes.

    The weirdest thing I was researching was medieval torture, but I was looking for images of the devices themselves. One thing led to another and I ended up on what appeared to be a snuff site (because I wasn’t paying attention to where the images were coming from). Needless to say I quickly closed my browser and bought a book on it instead.

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