[Night Bazaar] The Pleasures and Terrors of Research and/or “Inspiration”

I’m crappy at research, because I very quickly get convinced I don’t know enough on a given topic to write anything. For instance, I had this awesome plan to write a novel set in the Caucasus until I confused my Avars with my Cherkessians, and that is never a good idea.

What works better for me is to consume a lot of information on topics I’m interested in. Sooner or later, something comes back up — to use an unsavory digestive metaphor that my detractors would surely find all too accurate.

In my first novel The Panama Laugh (which is in stores, I’m told, incidentally — holy shit!), I had read some things that inspired me in the first place — I’ll talk about those in a minute. But there are a lot of machines of one form or another in my zombie apocalypse, from molecular to nuclear-powered. When it came time to figure out if I’d biffed it on the technical details, most of the things I imagined I’d gotten wrong — or not as right as they could be — were the sort of thing I couldn’t find in books or online.

For those, I found people who knew something about the topic — when possible. The Panama Laugh features ships and small civilian airplanes and a blimp and a zeppelin and the Panama Canal, and a castle, and guns…lots and lots of guns. Information about small civilian airplanes was provided by two friends who are pilots. I’m lucky enough to know a graduate of the California Maritime Academy who helped immensely in figuring out where to put the bilge bay and what Shaft Alley would sound like. I already knew a fair amount about guns, but Alan Beatts at Borderlands Books knows a whole lot more. Crime writer Christa Faust knows a thing or two about Lucha Libre, which figures briefly in The Panama Laugh. These people and others were extremely generous with their time and expertise.

Read the rest of this post at The Night Bazaar.


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