Daily Archives: May 12, 2010

Research Beyond the Net–Way Beyond

Last night I had the Mac Daddy of all dreams.  That’s saying something because I dream often, I dream vividly, and my dreams are almost always off the wall.

Suffice it to say I slipped a mouse into my son’s overalls.  How he ended up one again eludes me, as does the exact reason for dropping a rodent into his drawers.  Except, it was on an editor’s request.  For some reason Editor felt it would be best if someone found out what would happen–before he accepted my manuscript. 

Apparently it had something to do with the novel I had pitched, though I swear I’ve never written about a mouse in someone’s pants.  Needless to say, a short time later, a very disheveled little field mouse tumbled out of Son’s bibs.  According to the idea behind the project, this was an epic fail, and I faced telling Editor the bad news.

I promise you, getting rejected in your dreams is no easier than getting rejected in real life.  Even for a reason as stupid as the mouse not staying put long enough. 

But I digress…

In terms of research, even a novel must be factually based.  For my fantasy-and I use the term very loosly-chapter book, I had to research ships for  my pirate family.  For my middle grade camp tale, I had to know how many kids played on a soccer team and what year root beer was first made.  I even researched how long it takes to start puking after sipping syrup of ipecac for my YA. 

I wanted to try it myself, just to know, but I truly feared the gut-wrenching stories I read about.  Note to self, syrup of ipecac is nah-sty.

My current WIP called on me to test color-making on paper using natural ingredients.  I spent an entire day smearing flowers and rocks, weeds and sticks, pork chops and grapefruit onto the paper to get reds, purples, yellows, greens and browns. 

So, my question is this: how far do you go to research your novels? 

Would you drop a mouse in your kid’s drawers?  Would you throw back a mouthful of Pop Rocks and swig soda just to see if it really explodes?  Have you cooked odd recipes for your historical fiction just to describe the taste and smell?

What is the craziest thing you’ve researched for your writing?  Did it turn out the way you thought it would?