Mincemeat: on writing
  "When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out."
Vickie Karp

Researching my stories

I do a good deal of research while Iím generating the bookís outline, before I ever start writing. Not as much as a historical fiction writer has to, of course. I do believe itís essential when writing fantasy to ground the world in as much reality as possible or the reader wonít accept the fantastical bits. I always learn more than I can possibly make work in the story, and sometimes the hardest parts to cut are the information chunks that come from research.

Besides my pre-writing research, I often have to do on-the-spot research to make sure Iím portraying something accurately (such as, what did people in certain regions and eras use to stuff mattresses? What does a tallow candle smell like? Where would a sling stone have to hit a man to kill him?). This is why itís so handy to have the internet. I do most research on the web, but the library is also a major resource, for both non-fiction books and videos.

Here are some of the major subjects I researched for my books:


the goose girl
  • horse training
  • geese
  • medieval life
  • pre-Christian Germany
  • fairy tales and fairy tale critical theory
  • sword fighting
  • dying techniques
  • taxidermy
  • edible wild plants
  • animal languages
enna burning
  • fire
  • warfare
  • war camps and early tents
  • gladiator combats
  • vellum production
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Middle East climate and plants
  • arsonists thoughts/motivations
princess academy
  • marble and granite stone quarrying, ancient and modern
  • 16th century Scandinavian life
  • Scandinavian foods, climate, and geography (Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish)
  • commerce
  • diplomacy
  • traditional folk dances
  • songs that communicate (chain gangs, slave songs, etc.)
  • folk song lyrics
city of rivers
  • Mediterranean plants and their seasons
  • Ancient Roman dishes
  • slinging techniques
  • slings and stones
  • Ancient Roman society
  • river deltas
  • murder mystery novels


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