Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Trickery, Deception, and Other Essentials


My writing space is filled with the detritus of a mind spent in other worlds. My desk, shelves, and nightstand house the collected paraphernalia of either a lunatic or a writer...the line is painfully thin. I belive that it's all perfectly justified though. I mean you need tools, people...you need tools to construct worlds!

I have a plethora of books on special skills: The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception, Worst Case Scenario Handbook, The Daredevil's Manual, How To Survive in Hostile Conditions, and Secret Techniques of the Elite Forces.  I used to write Action/Thriller novels if you're wondering...the ones with links were the most helpful. I actually learned how to hotwire a car and that I can use the inside of my potato chip bag as a reflective surface for signaling for help.  Who woulda thunk it?

I must be on some agency's watchlist by now given my book purchases and internet searches. I better get published soon to prove I'm not building a survivalist bunker somewhere in Montana...I'm just a writer who researches. 

Of course, if the "Agency" in question paid a visit to my writing space I'd be totally cooked. You should see the shelves by my desk.  They're crammed with stuff I use for inspiration and research.  Replicas of Spanish Doubloons sit next to a Sake serving set, Mayan death masks, you name it. 

Recently, due to my Romantic/Suspense turn, I have detective manuals, lock-picking schematics, even a .pdf manual on Airboat Safety and Operation from the Louisiana Biological Society.  It was totally integral that I know how to drive one, okay?

I subscribe to state and country travel sites for the sole purpose of ripping out the photographs in the magazines they send me and using them to describe locations I'll most likely never see. (I totally HATE flying.) 

Travel blogs are the best for research. I described the inside of a Sudanese boutique hotel complete with menu because a compulsive, detail-oriented college dude posted pics and descriptions of his trip. Thank you, SamsonKnight...whoever you really are.

The Entymology guys over at UC Riverside totally rock. Five years ago, when I was working on a book, they returned my calls even after they realized that I was - A: Crazy and B: Unpublished.  I never would have learned so much about swarm theory and harmones from a book.

All this to say, that research can come in many different shapes.  From classes to books, interviews to objects, its all valuable if it helps you deliver the best story possible.  I may joke about my "equipment" for writing, but I believe it does make a difference.  My question to you is this...what do you surround yourself with in your writing life and why?

Until next time...Go Write!

Photograph by Ashley R. Good.  Photograph by uscglantarea.

11 comments:

Sydnee said...

Same here. If the FBI or CIA every took the time to go through my search history... I'm toast. Even my parents worry about all the gun schematics and how-to-make-a-bomb websites I've been to, and they actually know what I'm really doing it for.

I'm definitely going to look for that CIA guide at my library. :D

Lydia Kang said...

I have stacks of historical books about St. Louis and the Ojibwe culture...all part of my WIP. They're everywhere!

Beth Zimmerman said...

I'm surrounded by (mostly cheerful) clutter but it's just bits and pieces of my life. Nothing for research purposes ... yet!

Laura Marcella said...

I'm surrounded by zebra stripes and bright colors, especially orange. :) I have mugs of pencils, pens, markers and little trays and containers for other delightful office supplies. And of course books and more books, lots and lots of books, are happily invading my space!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

This post displays why you are so worthy of the award I gave you today!

Olivia Herrell said...

Haha, I love it! My life is so simple these days. I basically have nada.

I moved to North GA in December from Southern CA and sold everything I owned (except a fraction of my clothes, the books I couldn't part with, some work equipment and my cat) before making the trip across the country.

These days all my research is done online. Which does not mean my house is completely clutter-free. It's just mostly crap that's accumulated in the living of day to day. And, yes, the books are making quite a nice pile again.

Murr Brewster said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I've just started my first novel and I need to research a lot about living in the 19th century. I can barely get through a sentence without wondering: did they have jackknives? Do goats eat hay? I almost decided to bag it and write about America, post-1953. But now I'm taking courage.

Kris & Kels said...

So far, I've been writing YA fantasy type stuff. So I try to always have a Disney movie (or some other type) on for "inspiration" purposes. Yes, I am twenty years old. *shrugs* I love it. Also, I keep books by me that have inspired my. Like little paper sherpas.

<3 Kelsey Leigh

Watery Tart said...

This is FABULOUS, Raquel--great set of resources for the various things we need to know! I wish I had more time for proper research--keep thinking 'some day', but I know for a proper editing, I really DO need to get that far in.

I am cracking up at your fear of being investigated *snort* Just keep all the submissions and rejections to prove what you're doing!

Belbin9 said...

I'm jealous. I would love to have books or even know half the skills you do from researching. Although I am hoping that sooner or later I will have something to write about.

Olivia Herrell said...

Pssst, just popping in to let you know you have an award over at my blog! :D Olivia