All Those Things I Needed To Know

The title of this blog sounds like a slightly different version of my first list blog, doesn’t it?  Of course for that one I had questions that had never been answered.  Today I’m sharing answers to questions I’ve researched for my next book.

Every novel requires a mountain of research.  Sometimes it’s as mundane as the right word for an object I’ve never called anything except ” that thing”  “Thing” shows up a lot in my first drafts. 

Sometimes the research is so esoteric I can be forgiven for not having the answer right at the front of my brain waiting to leap to my pages.  How often, for instance, would any of us need to know, as I did for Fortunate Harbor, how to hide gold coins from a metal detector?  (One way is to hide them in aluminum cans, since the aluminum will set off the detector and possibly fool the treasure-hunter, a fact I didn’t use–the fate of most research.)

Research should never show.  Of course “never” is a word that’s hard to live up to.  All novelists know better than to parade newly found knowledge of a subject like a prize Weimaraner at the Westminster Dog Show.  (Did you know that the word Weimaraner  comes from the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimer-Eisenach, Karl August?)  Of course we all do it if we can get away with it.  Not because we want to show how well-read and intelligent we are, but because we find research so fascinating, we are convinced our readers will find it fascinating, too.  Think The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.  Brown’s love of his subject was greatly responsible for the popularity of his novel.

Of course,  more often, if we launch into lectures on our subject of choice, our readers will roll their eyes and pitch our books.  Those of us who are not Dan Brown have to hide much of what we’ve discovered, and deliver the rest in small doses. 

Just in case you wonder what I’m up to these days as I launch into my second book in the Goddesses Anonymous series, here are some research snippets I’ve picked up in the past week.  Assemble them and you’ll know my story. 

  • Twenty high schools in Georgia use horses as their school mascots
  • Burke County, Georgia, produces the most peanuts in the state
  • In North Carolina you can be arrested for “concealing” an item in your pocket or purse while you’re still inside a store.
  • A packet of ketchup or an orange might be considered contraband in prison
  • The parts of a “chopped” car are usually worth more than the car would be intact
  • More than 40 different wildflowers have been identified on the Oconaluftee River Trail in the Smokies.
  • Plant asparagus in North Carolina between November and March

Did you figure out my plot?  I’m afraid that’s likely to be harder than detecting gold in a Dr. Pepper can.  But I hope you had fun anyway.  I did.

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