This week's writing prompt is "What I learned when researching my book." (And, yes, I'm early this week due to the holiday weekend. Happy Easter, everyone!)
Honestly? Not much. Of course, I could be flippant and reply, "Which book?" Because I've got 18 or 19 of them out now. Not bad for four years, if I do say so myself.
What I do learn from research comes mainly from two sources: a business blog I ghostwrite for a Boston business consultant and the articles I write for the World Library Foundation's newsletter. As both editor and staff writer, I produce four articles--down from five--per month for the newsletter. Earlier this year, I lost count and assigned myself six articles.
Sometimes I'm an unwitting glutton for punishment.
Regardless, every article for the newsletter requires research into both contemporary and historical sources. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition of technologies and attitudes. I don't resent it though: being the WLF's newsletter editor is the most fun job I think I've ever had.
Other than writing my own stuff, of course.
When I write my own books, I occasionally veer off into Wikipedia or other sources to verify an assumption or translate a phrase. Did the 1965 Ford Mustang's wheels have four or five lug nuts? What are the "standard" diamond cuts and which one would my character prefer? What are common endearments in Russian? Things like that. Those small details like that that add realism to even the most outlandish and fantastical stories.
For the latest book Daughter of the Deepwood (March 31 release date!), I stole a bit from the Greek language and then mangled it for my own purposes. For instance, the Greek word for demon is daímonas; for fluid, ygró, for fortress, froúrio. Those went into the creation of the country name Daimónagi, the sentient mountain castle Froúrio Daimónafae, and the race of people Daimónio Refstófae. The "fae" part comes from "faerie," of course.
I'm sure any Greeks who read this blog or my book will simply shake their heads in dismay and mutter dark imprecations about ignorant Americans.
What I learned from conducting research for my books can't be summarized in holistic terms regarding any one body of interest. It can only be explained as trivia: little bits about a lot of stuff. Strangely, that comes in handy.