The joys of research

Researching a new book

So I’m busily researching material for the third Immortal book, tentatively titled I Have No Idea What This Is About Yet Immortal.

I may change the title later.

Researching something to add onto an existing creation, when that creation is a mutant amalgam of history, science fiction, and fantasy, is a bit weirder than you might think.  The first book sort of sprang out of stuff I already knew about, gleaned largely by a decade of recreationally reading popularized science and clever works of history.  I already knew, for instance, a lot about France in the plague years before setting a chapter there, thanks to Barbara Tuchman‘s A Distant Mirror.  I had to do very little in the way of research.

The second book– Hellenic Immortal— was a different thing, requiring books I might not have otherwise picked up, maps of cities I’ve never been to, and one call to a ranger station at the North Cascades National Park.

I have no idea what the plot of the third book is going to be yet.  I do know there are a couple of historical eras Adam hasn’t talked about, and I have a few “magical” creatures I have yet to employ or explain.  And there’s always the option of inventing a new creature, something I did a little of in the first book.  But beyond that, I know only what The Big Reveal is.  I don’t know how I’m getting there or why.

So I’m just reading.  I’ve already polished off Sean Carroll‘s From Eternity to Here for a science angle to explain something I know I’m going to need to explain, but that ended up being a dead end.  (It was, however, a highly entertaining read, and Mr. Carroll was kind enough, by email, to suggest another book for me.)  Now I’m in the middle of Mysteries of the Middle Ages by Thomas Cahill which is painting a nice big picture for me.  Next, something on Ireland or Scotland, and something else on India, and hopefully a little history on the Silk Road.

I’m beginning to understand why SF/F writers spend so much time in the future: you can just make up your own history.

That would make my life SO much easier.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by R.C. Murphy and Gene Doucette, Gene Doucette. Gene Doucette said: New Blog Post: Researching for a new novel… just sucks sometimes. If only I wrote about the future instead… […]

  2. awriterswayoflife on June 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Ha ha. I totally get this. I am a binge writer too, as a mom with 2 busy young boys and a ‘day’ job as a teacher…I write in little sums of time, but it all adds up…right?!

    However, instead of 4 months, its taken me 10 years and counting…though I made up my mind recently to finish the ‘first draft’ (like you, this is more like my fourth, I edit a lot as I go) by the time I am 40…June of next year.

    Thanks for a great post!
    Julie Johnson

    • genedoucette on June 28, 2010 at 11:51 am

      It’s funny; I have heard from a lot of writers who have said much the same. It doesn’t really jibe with the “you must write ALL THE TIME” drumbeat one hears in some of the tweet chats…

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