Saturday, October 31, 2009

Eclectica*

Lots going on in our authorly world, these days.  First of all, please read Charles’ post, below, concerning our participation in the enormously spectacular Hallopalooza Scavenger Hunt, sponsored by the Stiletto Gang, and involving 25 mystery writers’ blogs!  Not only are there plenty of tricks involved, there are lots and lots of treats, as well.

I must say that I was quite impressed by the first PPWebcon.  It was really interesting to interact with mystery fans and authors from all over the world, and to watch, read, and listen to so many authors, from the Very Famous to the up and coming.  It seems that the entire female contingent of this blog participated in several panels, video, audio, and text.  It was very interesting to learn from Debby that one should never take bananas on a boat, and I enjoyed not only hearing Vicki talk about Winter of Secrets, but getting a glimpse of one of the bedrooms in her house.  Many of the events have been archived, so if you want to read/hear/see what we did, go to ppwebcon.com, click the Archive window on the lower right side of the screen, and scroll down to check out all the available programs.

Now to business.  Years ago, I went to see Laurie R. King speak at Poisoned Pen Bookstore.  She was promoting her then-latest stand alone, Touchstone, which particularly interested me because it takes place shortly after WWI.  After her talk, I raised my little hand and asked her how much research she does into her setting and time period before she begins writing, and she replied that she does very little beforehand. Instead, she starts writing, and as she writes she discovers what she doesn’t know, and then looks it up.

I do something similar.  For each book, I keep a notebook and file full of information that I read up on as I need it.  I’m 70 pages into a new book, and just before I sat down to write this entry, I was perusing the file, and was interested to see how much information I’ve already collected.  Some of my research may not be used, for as a book advances, some of the ideas one started out with fall by the wayside.  Even so, when the book is finally done, I will have added quite a bit to the huge amount of arcane knowledge rattling around in my head.  

Here’s what’s currently in my file, in no particular order: How to slaughter hogs and butcher pork; recipes for head cheese, scrapple, blood pudding, pickled pigs’ feet, sausages; information on smokehouses; a calendar for 1915; how to make a ceiling-suspended quilt frame; a 1915 atlas of Muskogee County, OK; an article on the logging industry in Eastern OK; a collection of Creek Indian history and lore.

As I write on, brilliant new ideas for advancing the story will occur to me, and I’ll find myself looking up things I never would have thought of, otherwise,

And by the way - Happy Halloween!

_____

* As you know, Eclectica is a bit of this and a bit of that, or as my brother-in-law describes it, all different kinds of crap.


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