Thursday, December 28, 2006

But honey, it's research!

I really do have the best job in the world. After a recent lunch with non-writer friends, they mumbled out excuses to get back to the office to 'balance the accounts' or 'fix the copier' or 'make a pie chart'. All worthy tasks. Myself, I replied that I had to get back to the office to 'slay some vampires'.
On other occassions I've had to slay dragons, fix a carriage and rescue the damsel, crack a safe and steal the jewels, and yes, even a little afternoon lovin' with a gorgeous man. :-)

I know, it's all in my head. And I should, rightfully, be locked up for carrying on in such a manner. Yet, I am getting paid to do this, and when one receives compensation to use their imagination, one would be a fool to consider stopping.

How many of you mothers have had a conversation like this with your child?
"Hey, Boy, come here."
"Sure, Mom, er, what's with the duct tape?"
"Just let me wrap it around your fingers...nice and tight. That's the ticket!"
Boy gaves demented mother a silent blink.
"Now," says Mom "I'm going to time you to see how long it takes to escape."

Or there was a conversation I had the other day. "Boy, stop right there. Yep, that's good. Now, if I were to shoot you in the shoulder with a 12-gauge...."
We had a nice discussion on the size and violence of said wound. Boy then casually went off to work on his car. Just another day with his weird writer mom.

Not too many kids have ever been asked stuff like that without child welfare services looming over their shoulders. I once dressed the Boy up as a musketeer and toted him along to my book signing (I do recall Lois's daughter was there as well, clad as a medieval wench). They so rocked.
People were stopping by, curious as to why two grown adult women would pimp their children in such a manner. Hey, it sold a few books, and the kids did end up in Romantic Times with a small pic (of which the Boy still has a copy, but would never admit he liked doing it).

My son and hubby are the go-to guys for all research on weapons and spectacular fights. They rock. It's also a weird sort of bonding experience when I see the gleam in their eyes as they realize that perhaps the mom/wife isn't such a dweeb after all.

And those pictures of sexy half-nekkid men on my desktop? Research! They are necessary. How many women can get away with that, AND have their hubbies encourage them? "Well, if it'll pay the bills, Honey..."

I'll oft try a new food if my hero or heroine eats it. (Note to self: all heroines must love chocolate; but new research is a requirement with each book). When I returned from Paris last spring my current heroine had taken to Kir, a concoction of cherry liquor and champagne. Of course I had to stock it for the duration of the book. I did try frog legs, as well. (Another note to self: heroines will NEVER eat frog legs.)

Right now I'm heading into a new book about musketeers and DNA and cloning. I'm seriously considering the Human Genome Project that allows you to send in a swab sample of your DNA (at your own expense; last time I checked it was a couple hundred bucks) and they'll report back to you with some vague connections to ancient ancestors. It could be a hoot.

I love to read books (historicals especially) where I can learn new things. I don't like an info-dump of research, but I like to set a book down, knowing something new, unique or intriguing that I never considered before. And if it is done while also making me laugh, weep or scream at the hero and heroine, then even better.

So what about you? Ever slay a dragon? (Yes, the evil office copy machine that continues to eat your 99-page report due in five minutes DOES count as a dragon.) Do you trust the author has done her research when reading, or are you skeptical? Is technical and/or historical accuracy important to you? Or as long as the emotion and plot are satisfying, can you overlook small research goofs?


ps - just to let you know, the Boy never did get out of the duct tape, which proved the point I was looking for at the time. :-)


Debra Dixon said...

Oh, gosh, my poor kid. He's been through the wringer as well. But a writer needs answers.

Once he got in the car at elementary school and I said, "Okay, tell me the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story." It was for a book. Really. I needed to know what the average person remembered about the story.

He looked at me for a minute and said, "Is this a trick question?"

I tell you, it just broke my heart to see such mistrust in my only child. Oh, well, a writer has to do what a writer has to do.

Michele said...

Yes, we must do what is needed, and if our kids suffer in the process, well, it's not really's a learning process.


Helen Brenna said...

You guys are giving me great ideas. Watch out kids!

Betina Krahn said...

Okay, I was right with you, Michele, until the plate of "nekid" froggie butts! Aghhhhhh!

After hearing me talk about my heroine-- a girl with a horticultural bent--my youngest son took to "watering" a tree in the back yard when he was too busy playing to come inside to tinkle. Once or twice I saw him do it when he came running up the hill after school dying for relief. I was appalled and asked why he would do such a thing (which I learned later is mandated by something on the "Y" chromosome) he gave me some malarkey about helping the trees grow. I feared then that my sons were irretrievably marked by my profession.

Oh, and every girl they dated seemed to expect more of them somehow, because their mom was a romance writer. Go figure.

They survived. Though, if I'd thought of that duct take thing, Michele, life would probably have been a whole lot more peaceful! It's just that.. . they didn't have duct tape in Viking or Victorian days!


And I've always struggled to make the research sound. . . because I love to learn and uncover odd, quirkly facts. . . and because I'm still something of a teacher at heart. History and sex. Almost as good as chocolate and bubble bath!

:) Betina

Michele said...

Boys peeing in the yard! First time I witnessed my son do that, I freaked. Then when I found out it was sanctioned by The Dad? Oh brother!

Yeah, don't those frog butts look cute? But not tasty, no way, no how.