Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday Thoughts

When you write paranormal and fantasy, research can be a challenge. And just because what you write isn't real doesn't mean facts aren't involved. Lots of the stuff I write is complete make-believe, but a bit of fact-finding research can spark some awesomely bizarre ideas.

I don't have a folder filled with links to favorite research sites. My needs change all the time and favorite websites disappear. The Internet is a very unstable world. So I usually start my research in the same place for every book: Google. And my research isn't complete without throwing in a look at Wikipedia.

What I love about research is where it can lead. A crazy chain of website links help me create a plot and inspire interesting subplots to go with it. Because I write fantasy, my fact-finding must be creative. How many fallen angels do you know? Any thousand-year-old Seljuk Turks hanging out in your neighborhood? Do you keep the mummified remains of a prophetic saint in your closet? No? Welcome to my world.

When I started plotting KNIGHT'S CURSE, I knew I wanted a heroine unlike any other. I thought she could be a descendant of something legendary and powerful, maybe even mythological. A goddess? Been done to death. Amazonian? Meh. But I liked the idea of a warrior. So I started Googling and discovered an order of female knights from the eleventh century called the Order of The Hatchet. Now that's cool. So my heroine became a knight in an order that, in my world, still exists in the 21st century, only instead of fighting soldiers in a medieval Crusade they fight supernatural evil in the city.

I also wanted to stay clear of vampires and were-animals of any sort. Dragons? Too big and bulky. Griffons? Closer. Demons? Too stock for my needs, though I did use one in a small role. A little surfing online got me thinking about gargoyles. Now that had potential. The whole turning to stone thing? Oh, yeah. I was all over it.

The plot began piecing itself together from all the tidbits I'd found in my research, and I had a blast making it work as a story. All these diverse subjects connecting in cool and unusual ways made a mad sort of sense, and the glue was my own dark and twisted imagination.

Could I have written this book without the research? Probably, but it would have been a different book and might have taken me three times as long to write. The resources at my fingertips freed my imagination, even expanded it. And I ended up with enough material to write an entire series. High speed cable and WiFi. I don't know how I ever got along without it.


Creative A said...

Hey Karen

I know what you mean about research an the 'net...while I'm not one of those people who spends time researching pre-story, I do a lot of research during and after the story. The little gold nuggets I find online really help me work out crooked plots or twists in ways I couldn't imagine before. Also, I love how research adds a sort of professional clarity to my writing; as if once I believe it, my story believes it.

When I try to write without internet access, I feel a little smothered!


Ed Pahule said...

Research can lead to some fun epiphanies. In researching my current urban fantasy, I thought it would be fun to do something in Iceland. I found a whole wealth of legends outside of Norse mythology, like the 4 Guardians and huldufolk and a story just evolved from there.

Karen Duvall said...

I'm with you, A. I've grown so accustomed to internet access that I feel lost when writing without it. And I know what you mean about those nuggets. They're awesome!

Ed, those Icelandic myths sound awesome! What a great idea. Sounds like you're in for a good time with this one. 8^)

Pike said...

Hey ya, Karen!

This sounds so frightenly familiar. Hunting for little odd tidbits, searching through peculiar sites on demons, devils, monsters from different countries... it's cool and consuming.

BTW - Love the Hatchet! Sounds so violent for a lady that it's got my imagination rolling. Brilliant!

Karen Duvall said...

LOL, Pike! And thanks! The Hatchets rule! 8^)

JacquƩline Roth said...

Great book concept. I agree about the internet being a wonderful tool as long as you're careful. People do tend to not understand that paranormal and fantasy writers do research. We do a great deal of it.

Karen Duvall said...

Thank you, Jaqueline!