Natural History…

I’ve always loved reading about the sciences. For the most part, that’s influenced my participation in the Para-Earth series, where paranormal and science fiction (in the form of parallel Earth evolution) come together. However, I’m finding my interest in animal life is even useful in the Forever Detective series. Many folklore entities are closely connected to the natural realm. Even unnatural creatures like vampires are able to shape shift and control animals to do their bidding– so it helps to know about those animals.

For instance, there are many types of bats, and vampire bats are a tiny minority. Insectivores are far more common, and the flying fox type– the largest bats– are not only cute, but they live on things like pollen, nectar, and fruit. If a vampire turns into a flying fox, it tells you he doesn’t think like other vampires.

For Forever Haunted, I had to do some research on moths, which was rather fun and unusual. I’ve learned about jaguars, too, as I will be using that information later.

I need to know about horses for book 3, Forever in Deep. I also need horse racing information. Anyone want to recommend good sources?

Time, time, time, see what’s become…

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I thought one of the wonderful things about starting a  series in the 1940s was that there would be so much time to move forward in.

And yet the second book, set only a few months after the first, is rooted more-or-less in the 1920s. A ghost becomes a sort of secondary client for the detective as his attempt to determine a house is not haunted does the reverse. His heart goes out to a murdered flapper and he seeks out a murderer on this very cold case in the hopes that getting justice will help her find peace. During the Prohibition Era, gangsters were often treated like celebrities and the elite might be found rubbing elbows with them. What kind of chaos happened when a teenager house-sat for his family at a manor too close to the Canadian border to be dry?

For Rafael, there’s a bit of nostalgia in re-visiting the 20s. For me, there’s a lot of research! And a little bit of irony.

Writing in a different time period

research

The internet makes doing basic research so much easier for many things.

I was going to use the phrase “coloring inside the lines” and then had to ask myself– would a guy in his 30’s in the 40’s use that phrase? When were coloring books invented? They seem like something that’s just been around forever. Well, it only took about a minute to do the research to find out they’d been around about 100 years by then, so yes, it was fine to use.

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Likewise, I needed to see if a fire-axe back then fit my mental image of one… even though I don’t describe it in detail, there was a possibility I would use it on the cover. Another question I had was if a passport problem would legitimately be used to delay someone leaving the country.

Back before the internet, I’d have needed to look for very, very specific history books for images of fire axes, an encyclopedia for the coloring book history, and as for the passport issue, I’d probably need to look into procedural handbooks from the New York-New Jersey Port Authority from 1948. Finding those sources would all have been difficult.

There’s something wonderful about having so much information at our fingertips.