Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Other Research

by Bethany Maines 

 After reading Paffi Flood’s article about that new Beaver Bum smell, I don’t feel so bad about today’s google searches, which include best easy-open pocket knives, MAPP gas, and a variety of facts about the Tacoma Police Department in 1922. My search history may imply an interest in violence, safe breaking and the local politics of the early twentieth century, but at least I have not learned anything horrifying about ice cream.


 It has been noted on more than one occasion that mystery writers tend to have rather disturbing research patterns. But really, of course we do. No one wants to get that detail about corpse bloat wrong. So embarrassing – how could I face the other writers at the conventions? But the other, less disturbing, research rarely gets mentioned. What gets served in high-school lunches these days? Hint: tater tots are still going strong. What are the three laws of robotics again? (Answer here) What brand would a black, vegetarian, female computer hacker smoke? Turns out it’s either Newport Menthols or American Spirit Organics. What do ballet dancers do strengthen their feet? (Video here)

 My point? There’s a lot more research that goes into a work of fiction than just what happened to the dead guy. But that research isn’t particularly titillating. It’s simply the stuff we bore you with at cocktail parties. What I find interesting is that almost every person I’ve ever met has been an expert in something, from baking, bagpiping, needlepoint, and cars, to wood working, plumbing, or how the brakes on busses work. I never know when I’m going to need that expertise, but I like to keep track of my various experts. After all, I never know when I’m going to need to know how to crash a bus full of bagpipers. Not that I would ever publically admit to mentally cataloging my acquaintances by how useful they could be to future research…

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Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Wild Waters, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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