Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Oh the Things I've had to Research!

I don't find that being a writer makes me the life of the party, probably because I'm an extreme introvert. I don't particularly love tooting my own horn, so I actually try to steer clear of talking about what I do in any great detail. However, sometimes my writing becomes the seed for some interesting conversations.

Writers have to research the strangest things. I was with a group of people not long ago, and I'm not sure how we got on the subject, but I started talking about the ecological issues associated with burying dead bodies. I had a rapt audience for a few minutes, then one of the women looked at me skeptically and said, "How do you know that?"

I told her about a website I'd come across for a coroner in Arizona, how they had some really interesting articles posted.

Then the second question came, "What made you want to read a coroner's website?"

Then, I had to explain how I had needed to know what happens to a Jane Doe when no one claims the body for a novel I was writing.

I started considering all the stuff I've had to research for my novels:

  • New York hotels, 1890's (must have balconies)
  • Malignant tumors
  • How fast someone bleeds out from a severed jugular
  • Lilith myths
  • Prion disease
  • Snowmobile mechanics
  • Solar flares
  • Medical nanotechnology
  • Mining in northern Montana
  • Victorian era anesthetic
  • Decay rates of submerged bodies

Just to name a few.

I've talked to a number of writers who are pretty sure they're on a Homeland Security watch list because of topics they've had to Google.

Over and over, my writing has pushed me to learn some pretty unusual things. What types of things have you had to research? What strange knowledge do you now possess as a result of your writing?


Melinda Friesen writes MG, YA, and NA novels. She's anxiously awaiting the release of her YA dystopian novel Subversion, the sequel to award-nominated Enslavement.


  1. There are so many pins out there with "I'm a writer, not a serial killer" and stuff like that. Ha ha ha. I had to find out when the law was passed about exotic pets in NYC, and when they stopped allowing helicopters to land on rooftops. Not the worst of it by far, but it was certainly interesting!

  2. This was such an interesting list. I've had to research so many things for both kid stories and an adult mystery. For the former, how to transport elephants to France in the 19th century. For the latter, the history of Port wine, just to name two. But I've also climbed in and out my kitchen window to get the logistics for escaping out a window from kidnappers. And my kind, gentle husband had to push me against the wall by the throat so that I could see what a victim might see over his shoulder. Oh, the things we do of our craft!

  3. I've searched up a lot of strange things... My most memorable one was how long a person can realistically survive being run through. Turns out long enough for a determined someone to drag you half way across a castle to be healed. Humans are resilient creatures.

  4. Ha! I've researched prion disease too, along with all kinds of bacterial and viral diseases. I have to bite my tongue all the time not to tell people all of the horrible rare diseases that exist. ;) Other fun things I've researched: courting rituals of the 1800s, death from consumption, elephant birds, how to pick a lock, how to take samples of blood and puss. Yeah...


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