Ask the Author– Research

Today we are talking about research. This time I have a few questions with shorter answers, but they are all research related. So, without further ado:

How much research do you do before and during writing?

One nice thing about writing fantasy is that I have more freedom to make things however I want them. I don’t have to worry about historical accuracy. I can have clothes and food deviate from what our world would have them. I don’t have to work around known events and timelines or worry about contradicting our history books. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t have to worry about like I would with historical or contemporary fiction. However, there are some things I have to know to keep Aviandria realistic enough to be viable in the mind of the reader. Besides knowing Aviandria inside and out (That wouldn’t count as research as much as what they call world building, but can require research nonetheless) I really do try to stick to natural laws and take into consideration what technological advancements would be appropriate for Aviandria’s unique development. These things do take some research.

In the first book, Gateway to Aviandria, I wrote a lot of what I already knew, so I didn’t have as much research as I might have otherwise. I remember researching and measuring some distances so I could get an idea of land features and travel times. I also briefly researched rocs, though I was already familiar enough with the mythology surrounding those that I knew there were some fairly distinct differences. (Marco Polo’s description isn’t entirely off, though Aviandrian rocs are far from big enough to pick up an elephant.)

The next books have required a bit more research. I’ve had to study up on some first aid and some wilderness survival topics. Among other things, I’ve had to gain a working knowledge of how to avoid getting skunked, as well as what might provoke a skunk to spray. I’ve had to learn what may or may not attract lightning, the basics of quicksand, and even methods of cooking mussels. I’ve actually done a fair bit of research that doesn’t show up in the book because I have wanted to learn everything about Aviandria that I could even if the books never touch on it. I’ve tried to learn at least as much about it as I would if it were a foreign country in this world I was writing about.

Has something you’ve found in your research ever reshaped the story?

There have been a few times I’ve had to tweak after doing research because after earning more I have found that what I envisioned wouldn’t work well. Fortunately, I haven’t had to do more than change a few details.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever researched?

My research doesn’t get nearly as strange as some of the mystery and thriller authors. Perhaps the most random thing I’ve ever researched, besides skunks or mussels, would be a rather long list of birds. I’m not going to say why, but there are a fair number of clues scattered through the books if anybody would like to try and guess.


What other questions do you have about the research I’ve done? Have you ever researched anything particularly fun for something you’ve written? 

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