Jun252010

Behind the Magic ~ Heartless Research and Other Mysteries of Clark Kenting

Gentle Reader, I always find it interesting what strange things I have to investigate on my meanderings path through authordom. Yesterday, while working on Book the Fourth, I spent almost 20 minutes investigating croquet.

Prior to that, it was the history of the streetlamp, as well as the proper names of said lamp’s component parts. And no, I am not going all Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on you. Afterward, I moved on to early balloon technology and how it might have evolved into smaller faster aircraft in my alternative 1874.

Then I spent nearly an hour with my nose deep into Baedeker’s from 1876 trying to determine the exact location on Motcomb Street and the Pantechnicon (yes, yes, I know it had already burned).

So yes, sometimes I do get carried away by research. I managed to hit my word count and then some, although I am down for the week’s total as I spent a glorious few days shepherding the lovely David. J. Williams around the true beauty of California. (I love showing off my home state.)

I suppose what I am attempting to point out is this (trying not to sound defensive): I can’t research everything. I don’t have time. I would end up pulling a George R. R. on you all and spending years on each book. Yesterday alone I spent 3 hours on research and that wasn’t even the tough stuff. Combine that with the 3 hours answering email, facebook, twitter inquiries, fielding requests for interviews, organizing travel for book promo, and phone conversations (in this case over pronunciation of Scottish names for the Book II audio). Add that to my 2 hour exorcize routine (no, I can’t cut back), a shower, and eating and the question becomes: where does writing the actual book fit in to the day? (Let alone writing this blog post.)

So, sometimes I cut back on research. Mostly, I hope to catch any errors in edits, or hope one of my three beta readers will catch it (or at least mark it so I can go back and double check the facts), but every once in a while some silly little thing will slip through. Now, sometimes this is intentional, I do like to drop cookies that won’t be picked up for ages. But sometimes I just messed up, good on you for catching me, but really, in the end . . .

I write farcical alternative history, people! Sheesh. Even if you miss the alternative bit you can’t possibly misplace the farcical. If I want lasers on my top hats I can flipping put them there and explain them away later. You want historical accuracy in pure unadulterated form? Go read Gaskell. My friends and I call this Clark Kenting. As in: “You know what I don’t get about Superman. Why no one ever realized he was also Clark Kent.” To which one tilts one’s head and says, “Why, because the whole flying thing was so eminently believable?” I do understand that sometimes small detail errors may muck about with your suspension of disbelief and honestly, I try my very best. But remember sometimes it’s no error at all but a laser and it’s meant to be there, for this authorbeast has wicked little tricks under her top hat.

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Quote of the Day:
“You are what you read.”
~ Esko Valtaoja

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Posted by Gail Carriger

 

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