So right now I’m neck-deep in 1920’s Chicago research, and I have to say I really, really like it. This is almost a new concept for me. I don’t usually do much research for my novels and stories (with the exception of my stories for the Crimson Pact series, which follows the demon-fighting antics of sequential generations of women). I’ve never been a big history buff, either. I get confused about dates and motives and what the heck started World War One anyway (yes, I know Ferdinand got assassinated. I can’t tell you why or how or what that actually did to destabilize everything).
Prohibition-era, though … that’s where it’s at.
The era in general and gangsters in particular have always fascinated me. I’ve always been intrigued by the notion that folks who operate outside the law have their own moral code and rules for enforcing that code. And the fashion! I love flapper dresses and mary jane shoes and long necklaces. Doing the research now is giving me all sorts of ideas, and once I sit down to write the outline I’ll probably have to hold myself back from putting it all in one book. That’s what sequels are for, right?
Filed under reading, writing
So I’m working on a new project. While I won’t tell you the particulars, I will tell you it’s speculative fiction set in Prohibition-era Chicago. So you know that that means. Flapper girls and speakeasies and maaaaagic. I am so, so excited to build this world and research the era. I’m reading history books! I’m researching gangsters! I’m watching documentaries! Next I’ll research fashion and language! I will also be keeping my liquor cabinet well-stocked, because you know. One shouldn’t research Prohibition without a drink in one’s hand. By the time it’s all said and done this will be the most research I’ve ever done. Hopefully my liver will still be functional.
Right now I have a solid story concept and a nebulous idea for a plot. Right now it’s also the Best Idea I’ve Ever Had that I Will Naturally Fuck Up Somehow Because I’m a Shitty Writer. So all systems are normal.
I’m the first to admit that I’m not big on camping. I don’t like being uncomfortable in general, and sleeping in a cold, damp cabin with spiders is the definition of uncomfortable. Still, last weekend rocked. I learned about firearm safety (and have may have finally internalized the difference between gauge and caliber), shot at flying clay targets, and learned the basics of taking a decent picture. I toasted a Twinkie, met people from Chicago, and ate a whole lot of fried fish. I didn’t shower or have cell service for three days and I didn’t even care. I met an 85-year-old whose activities included ziplining and rappelling. I’m already looking forward to next year. And trying to figure out how to incorporate trap shooting in my next book.
In all likelihood I’m on the way to Indianapolis as you read this, but thanks to the magic of the internet, I can also blather about writing research. Not so much about the actual nuts and bolts of research; really, I’m just passing on a few cool websites I’ve found while trolling science blogs for my day job.
One of the great things about being a writer is creatively killing characters. (In all honesty, it’s been awhile since one of my characters has bitten the dust; I’m overdue.) Sure, bombs and explosions and gunfire and knife fights are good ways to kill Joe Blow Redshirt. But what about poison? It’s not just for Agatha Christie novels, you know. These blogs are great if you need or want your poison with a side of medical science.
The Poison Review. This one is written by medical toxicology professor and former ER doctor. He talks a lot of poisons of all ilk, timely intoxicants (if a new bath salts story breaks he’s all over it), and little-known chemicals that somehow find their way into someone’s blood stream. If you’re not a medical or laboratory professional, some of his jargon might get a little, well, jargony. But you’re doing research, right? Keep researching.
Elemental. Part of Wired magazine’s science blog block, Deborah Blum writes about poison from an investigative journalist’s perspective. She’s as much into why a man would poison his wife as how the particular poison affected the deceased. She’s also very much into the history of poisons, which is cool to read about. She’s written a book on the subject (The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York) that’s on my list of books to buy.
Do you have any good poison references?