One of my favorite novels of all time is Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. I have a serious case of morbid curiosity. I admit it. It’s a big part of the reason why my Lana Harvey series centers on grim reapers and the afterlife. There’s a certain enthralling mystic about the macabre, and I’m certainly not the only one who sees it. There’s a reason why vampires and zombies and ghosts are so popular.
While these lovely, dark creatures are most likely fiction, they have histories and mythologies. They have their own set of truths that many a writer has upheld throughout the ages. Vampires drink blood. Werewolves howl at the full moon. Grim reapers collect souls. Sometimes the rules are bent…. like vampires who sparkle in the sun rather than burst into flames. But for the most part, writers stick to the facts of fantasy, which means that a certain degree of research is needed, even for a fiction novel.
Research is a tricky thing when you’re a writer. Sometimes, if you’re using a shared computer, it’s absolutely vital to delete your internet history. In fact, I’d say it’s more important for a writer to delete their history than it is for a porn addict. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this short list of questionable questions I’ve had to ask the Google gods (all in the name of research, cross my heart!):
- How long does it take a drowned body to bloat and resurface?
- How much blood can a person lose before they pass out?
- Which level of Dante’s inferno contains the most torture?
- Why is lettuce so sexual in Egyptian mythology?
- How does one hot-wire a car?
If the Google searches weren’t bad enough, I’ve also been on the receiving end of some pretty horrified looks from librarians. You try checking out these books (all at the same time) without getting the stink-eye:
- Do They Take Credit Cards in Heaven?: Economics in the Afterlife (Milica Bookman)
- Go To Hell: A Heated History of the Underworld (Chuck Crisafulli)
- The Malleus Maleficarum (Heinrich Godfrey Kramer)
- Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer's Manual of the Fifteenth Century (Richard Kieckhefer)
- Latin for Dummies (Clifford A. Hull)
- The Joy of Writing Sex (Elizabeth Benedict)
So, there you have it. Free admission onto the FBI watch list. Public humiliation. And that’s all before the actual writing of the novel even begins. It’s a hard knock life for us writers, but I think the finished product is worth the pain. Plus, it’s an excellent alibi when the there’s non-fiction mischief afoot. Eek!
Urban fantasy author Angela Roquet lives in Missouri with her husband and son. When she's not swearing at the keyboard, she enjoys painting, goofing off with her family and friends, and reading books that raise eyebrows. GRAVEYARD SHIFT, the first novel in Angela's Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. series, is now available for FREE on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and more. You can find Angela online at www.angelaroquet.com