Thursday, May 22, 2008
You don't know what you don't know
Like many writers, I have a love/hate relationship with research. I love to do it, but I can get lost in it. Especially internet research. As a kid, I read anything in front of me. The milk carton, the tag on the pillow, street signs (But how do the deer know where to cross?). Anything with words. The cereal box was the best, with its trivia questions and fun facts.
Along comes this thing known as the internet. A giant, infinite cereal box. With all kinds of fun facts. It's hard to stop reading.
This past weekend I got in the other kind of research. The walking and talking kind. I went down to Asilomar State Park, in Pacific Grove, California where I am setting my third book in the quilting series. Surf, sand, historically important architecture. What a hardship.
I was determined to talk to a California State Park Ranger. I'm shy about approaching people. I think they don't want to talk to me, or I'll ask a really dumb question and prove how ignorant I am. In this case, I was a wee bit embarrassed to tell them I'm planning to use their beautiful facility as a setting for a murder or two.
The rangers put me at ease right away, and told me all kinds of things I didn't know I didn't know.
What I knew: Asilomar had been built by architect Julia Morgan at the behest of Phoebe Hearst and the YWCA.
What I didn't know: The YWCA duped college women to work as maids and janitors.
What I knew: Deer have fawns in the springtime.
What I didn't know: A doe will attack you if you're walking your dog anywhere near her fawn.
What I knew: The Pacific Ocean is deep.
What I didn't know: The Monterey Canyon is ten thousand feet deep and a body that goes in might never be seen again.
What I knew: A famous Rocky Mountain singer went down in his airplane off the shoreline.
What I didn't know: He fell through the propeller so little pieces of him washed up on shore and were eaten by birds and gulls.
I learned plenty of not-so sinister facts, too, but these are the fun facts that spoke to the mystery writer in me.
What have you found out in your research that you didn't know you didn't know?
Posted by Terri Thayer at 10:19 PM