The Thrill of the Write

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Photo by Flickr’s Storm Crypt

Recently I read on Kirkus about novelists “who do really funky research.” Like Jodi Picoult who spent time in a prison. Susan Minot traveled to Uganda to get to know girls kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Peter Rock explored an underground shelter used by former members of a New Age religion. Ann Tyler has written: “I write because I want more than one life.”

It made me wonder. What would I do? How far would I go? My just-finished work in progress is about the Vietnam era, and it’s been tough. A girl coming to age, watching young men she cares about grappling with going to war. It’s been hard, not just to hear about and think about all that went on during the war (I’ve interviewed vets, read lots of books, and watched tons of video footage), but it’s also been tough to get into the mind of young soldiers, particularly those who’ve come back with PTSD.

I’ve struggled and (consequently) so has my main character. She’s never seen combat and neither have I. Once when I was a kid I was living in unstable Uganda and a guard shoved a machine gun into the Land Rover I was riding in, but that’s the closest I’ve come to a wartime experience.

My next WIP is about an adrenaline junkie who does extreme things for a thrill, to make himself feel more alive. I made a list of things I would might think about doing to research that novel.

1. Visit a warzone. If I did, would there be any way I could truly feel the feelings of being a combat troop? Or what it would feel like to be there day in and day out? Although it would bring me closer, I’m not so sure it would achieve more than a glancing view . . . like being a tourist or voyeur into a life. Unless I actually picked up a weapon and was in combat. No one wants me in their platoon. Trust me.

2. Go bungee jumping. Earlier today I saw a terrifying video on Facebook—and by me, I mean my husband (I was too afraid to even watch). A bungee cord snapped as an Australian woman was bungee jumping over the Zambezi River. It took forty minutes before she was rescued, after she floated downriver through rapids and white waters. I don’t want to do that. The truth is I’m as chicken as they come, scared of anything that might cause me bodily harm. But I wonder. I saw cliff jumpers in an IMAX presentation once when I was on a field trip with one of my kids. I had to cover my eyes and peer through my fingers. I’ll cross these two things off, too.

3. Drive terrifyingly, dizzyingly fast. 100 or more miles an hour on a public street. When I was a teenager I drove too fast. Okay, I admit to occasionally driving over the speed limit even now; I drove over 90 when I drove across the country last summer—it was in Utah where the speed limit was 80. But there wasn’t any adrenaline rush, I was only doing it because we had a long way to go, and I had the illusion of safety. This one I’d consider . . . when I was younger I learned to drive a stick shift on the hills of San Francisco, and that was an adrenaline rush.

4. Stay in prison overnight. No. Unless I was in solitary confinement. With a shiv.

5. Shoot a gun. I’ve never even held a gun. Can you believe that? But, yes, this is one I’d actually like to try.

6. Be a man for a day (or a week). Not that this is particularly dangerous or adrenaline rush causing (although it may be, I don’t know), but I admit to being curious. I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to be the opposite sex. What does go on in those minds? (Venus vs. Mars and all that.) This one is physically impossible (without spending way too much money and time) so it’s a no on this one, too.

7. Sail in the middle of nowhere with no land in sight. I’d like to say yes to this one, but the answer would probably be no. I have a fear of what lies below the surface of the ocean (and lakes, too).

8. Fly a plane solo. My husband has a private pilot’s license, he got before he could even drive. It pains me to say this, but I’m afraid of flying, so again, I’d probably say no . . . even though one of the books I wrote has a small plane pilot in it (of course he was killed in an accident).

9. Go spelunking. Probably not. I did, however, go into the Great Pyramid of Giza when I was a child, and I had to crawl through a long tunnel that was only about three feet high. Maybe that’s where my fear of closed spaces came from, hence the shying away from spelunking…

I know what you’re thinking . . . I sound like a wimp. But, the sad fact is that as I read through my list, I realize that as much as I’d actually like to try some of these things, I’m just too scared. So you’re right, I am. Instead I’ll write about someone who isn’t, someone who is in fact afraid not to do these things. Which kind of makes me wonder . . . am I an inverse adrenaline junkie? And if I am so afraid, why do I even want to write about these things? Some people say you write what you know. Others say you write what you want to know. Still others say you write to confront your fears. Anne Tyler says you write to live another life.

And maybe therein lies the thrill for this writer, the secret to leading more than one life: imagining what a character feels or thinks or does. If I’m looking for an adrenaline rush, do I really need to jump off a cliff or snap a bungee line? Maybe my speeding car and my sex change are as close as the nearest computer or library, my adrenaline fix as near as the closest high speed racetrack or base of a mountain where cliff jumpers land—to observe and ask questions . . . to get into their heads, to understand how they feel, what motivates them to do the things that they do.

Then back to my computer to get my next fix. Because I contend I am an adrenaline junkie. I’m addicted to words and the creation of stories . . . and when the words are flowing and the story is pouring out, that’s the highest high I know, the best feeling on earth, the way I feel most alive.

How about you? What’s the “funkiest research” you’ve done for a novel? What’s the funkiest—or scariest—thing you would might consider doing? 

 

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About Julia Munroe Martin

Julia Munroe Martin (@wordsxo) is a writer and blogger who lives in an old house in southern coastal Maine. Julia's other passion is photography, and if she's not writing at the dining room table or a local coffeeshop, you'll likely find her on the beach or dock taking photos. Julia writes The Empty Nest Can Be Murder mystery series as J. M. Maison.

Comments

  1. says

    **What’s the funkiest—or scariest—thing you would might consider doing?**

    The scariest thing I would consider doing is visiting one of the most haunted houses – in the UK – and staying there for a weekend all by myself.

    After watching the Paranormal Activity movies, I figure I have done enough research to be able to handle myself… :p

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    • says

      Interesting, Katherine. I agree, that is scary, even though I have to tell you that I’m 99.9 percent sure I don’t believe in ghosts, yet I’m not that certain I’d spend a weekend by myself in one of the most haunted houses in the UK…I’m not sure what that really says about me (probably reinforces my wimpiness). I’ll be so curious to hear about it if/when you do it! Thanks for your comment.

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  2. says

    Great post, Julia. I do envy those writers with such courage to live the experience in real life that they want to write about. I’ve always wanted to spend the night in a cemetery, listen to the dead sleep, watch for owls, and wake up with the sun rising over the headstones.

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    • says

      Glad you enjoyed it, Paula! “I do envy those writers with such courage to live the experience in real life that they want to write about.” << exactly! As for spending a night in a cemetery, I'm not sure I would (or want to). High on the creepiness factor. But the way you describe it sounds actually quite beautiful!

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  3. says

    Julia, I am so not an adrenalin junkie. I don’t mind working hard (climbing mountains, kayaking, etc) but experiences for the thrill aren’t my thing. However, that kind of research aside, I would love to travel, interview people, and walk the settings of my writing, so I can imagine the experience more vividly.

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  4. says

    Hmmm… I shot a gun and jumped into a river holding an infant. Well, not really. That took place in my mind. In the outside world, while researching BABY GRAND I traveled to Albany and toured the Executive Mansion. That’s about as daring as I got. Guess I’m a wimp too. :)

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    • says

      Oh, Dina! You had me going for a minute there! I was wayyyy impressed that you had really done those things. I remember you talking about the tour of the Executive Mansion which (maybe not so scary) sounded like very cool research to me!

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  5. says

    Trust me — you don’t want to be in a war zone. I didn’t see direct combat during Desert Storm (for which I was grateful), but if you want to get a feel for the emotions when you come back, read the book Redeployment by Philip Clay. It’s hard when you’re dealing with paranoia day in and day out because the reality is that someone is trying to kill you. I’d skip the first story, though, and read it after you’ve read some of the others. You might not get past the first one.

    I have shot a gun, and have also held a Civil War pistol (I understood what balanced means after that). You might try going to a local gun show and chatting with the dealers. They might like showing things off and letting you hold the guns. Las Vegas also has “The Gun Shop,” where you can fire pretty much anything, including a Tommy gun.

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    • says

      I’ll trust you, Linda, and thank you for validating my gut reaction! Believe it or not I JUST received REDEPLOYMENT day before yesterday from Amazon and am starting it today! I read one of the stories online and know I’ll love it. What an amazing writer. Thanks for the tip about going to a gun show, great idea. I’m way across the country in Maine or I’d hightail it over to “The Gun Shop” today. I really appreciate your tips. Thanks for the read and the comment!

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  6. says

    I didn’t really do any of the things for the purpose of book research or thrillseeking. I’m an RN and I volunteer in Nepal to teach nursing, esp critical care nursing (for which I am highly qualified in USA). So, my “baseline” day job is one that deals with human drama. I started going to Nepal in 2007 and over the years I developed the insights that went into The Sacrament of the Goddess, due out next month. (find it on Amazon). this included learning about surprising cultural details from my Hindu and Buddhist friends, and working on the tropical disease ward (hint: washing hands is a good idea) and also on the burn unit. My book includes a lot of detail about medical problemsolving in a Low Income country. didn’t research it – I lived it!

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    • says

      I didn’t really do any of the things for the purpose of book research or thrillseeking. I’m an RN and I volunteer in Nepal to teach nursing, esp critical care nursing (for which I am highly qualified in USA). So, my “baseline” day job is one that deals with human drama. I started going to Nepal I have the utmost respect for RNs and can well imagine the daily human drama not to mention adrenaline you must experience. Your book sounds fascinating (and having lived in tropical climates — with only a few tropical diseases contended with — I will always wash my hands even here in Maine!). And you bring up an important point — the difference between going out and doing research specifically to write vs. living something you then write about. Thanks for reading and commenting, Joe! I look forward to checking out your book.

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  7. says

    Stephen Crane wrote “The Red Badge of Courage” without having been in or seen one Civil War battle. It’s all in the imagination, not necessarily in the experience.

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    • says

      I did not know that about Stephen Crane — that’s absolutely amazing. I agree that imagination is critical (which I have in ample abundance) but I am also so curious of Stephen Crane’s research. Such an amazing book! And at such a young age. Thanks so much for the comment and the read, Tony.

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  8. Denise Willson says

    Us wimps need to unite, Julia. We expose our souls to the world on paper. Nothing braver than that. :)

    Denise Willson
    Author of A Keeper’s Truth, and (coming soon) GOT

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    • says

      I welcome another wimp into the fold :) And I’d agree, at times (like when I’m admitting I’m a wimp on Writer Unboxed), I do feel a bit over exposed and brave… Thanks, Denise — for the read and the comment, I appreciate the solidarity!

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  9. says

    In my “case” as a writer, personal experience is usually the enemy of the imagination. Personal experience–what you term research–crowds in, demanding attention, demanding to be memorialized. This process, then, of being true to remembered events makes it much more difficult, if not impossible, to see how things might be, rather than how they are.

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    • Abe says

      I agree with Barry. Plus I’m also very risk averse. I’m
      afraid of virtually everything on your list and happily so. I’m
      very content to stay out of harm’s way and let my imagination risk
      life and limb. Besides, as Barry put so aptly, I do think that
      often something is lost when we’re actually writing what we know.
      It is a unique skill to have lived something and still not lost
      sight of the magic or horrors of the moment and be able to
      translate them whole to the page.

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      • says

        Abe–
        We are “on the same page.” But I would add the caveat that there are writers, much to be envied, whose egos seem big enough to prevent actual experience from getting in the way of their imaginations. I would place Philip Roth in this group. He’s written a great many books that draw directly on his personal, not to say very personal experience. But he is such a consummate stylist (“consummate” perhaps not being the best word here) that the way he treats “what actually happened” is realized not as personal history, but as powerful fiction. A lot of readers dislike Roth, but no honest reader can fault him in terms of style.

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      • says

        So interesting, Abe… as an intense research hound, I’m so fascinated by your and Barry’s point of view. I truly will be trying my hand at writing something without having tried it — and putting aside my fear that I won’t be able to do so, instead attempting to get in touch with the magic or horror of the moment! Thank you for your comment and read.

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    • says

      So interesting, Barry… do you feel the same way about research in general? It’s such an interesting perspective (for me) and I will definitely have to give it a try. It will stretch both my writing and also my bravery — thanks for the idea.

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      • says

        Julia–
        I speak only for myself. But each time I’ve tried to write about something that actually happened to me, I’ve become bogged down in what I think of as a kind of moral dilemma. I feel duty-bound to reproduce exactly what happened. Otherwise, I am betraying the memory. But of course all any writer has to work with is “experience.” The only question is whether these experiences happen in the physical or mental world. I say a little more about this in the Q&A I created for my website.

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  10. says

    Love your honesty, Julia! I tend to rely more on my imagination and less intimidating ways to research a project. Definitely agree with your comment that ‘words flowing’ can be an incredible adrenaline rush. And I’m with you, Denise, that exposing our souls to the world must be near the top of the being-brave-risk-taking list.

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    • says

      Thanks, Micky… I did think briefly (before posting) about the sense or wiseness of posting my inner most fears. Quickly dismissed, apparently :) Yes, I loved what Denise said about the exposing my soul being brave (as evidenced by this post…) and here’s to the incredible thrill of writing. Glad to find another thrill writer!

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  11. sandy gardner says

    Hi,
    not the funkiest — but– could be considered scary (at least, my friends thought so)– interview street gangs for my non-fiction books, Street Gangs. First edition involved youth gang members in the South Bronx, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia. It was late October and I was only wearing a thin trench coat. One gang member (a girl — they were often tougher than the guys) asked me if I was shivering because I was afraid. I looked her in the eye and told her I was just cold. In another interview, when I got back in the cop car (the cops knew where the gangs were) after being a couple of blocks away on the street interviewing, told me that the gang members had much more ammunition than they had. (thanks for sharing).
    In the second edition, I interviewed gang members in
    Los Angeles County. One night I patrolled Hollywood Boulevard with the Guardian Angels. The scariest part was that I got lost, late at night, driving back to my motel….
    Sandy Gardner
    sgardner2@hvc.rr.com

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    • says

      Wow, Sandy, that is truly one of the scarier research stories I’ve heard. It took a lot of guts and you are definitely not a wimp…impressive! Those are the kind of guts I wish I had…so I could do more of the things on my list. As for getting lost in such a scary area, I understand that…I grew up in SoCal and had times when I got off on the wrong freeway exit at night and ended up being truly terrified. Thank you for sharing your story, so interesting, and I will definitely check out your books.

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      • sandy gardner says

        Hi Julia,
        thanks for all that! Street Gangs and Street Gangs in America (winner of an award from the National Federation of Press Women) were published by Franklin Watts– Amazon might have them at this point. I moved from non-fiction to fiction awhile ago– am now working on a mystery series.
        Sandy Gardner

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  12. says

    I have done four of your nine experiences. One of the best parts is *having* done them. I would not in all cases do them again.

    Well, except being a man for a week. I can’t seem to stop that particular form of thrill-seeking.

    For research, though, there’s nothing like firsthand experience. Just live to write about it, okay?

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    • says

      Well, that’s just plain mean to say you’ve done four of the nine but not tell which… I’ll guess #2, #3, #5 & #7 (sounds a bit like a take out order). Am I right?

      I would agree that having done them is one of the best parts — and when (if) I do them, I definitely plan to live through them. Thanks Don (for the comment and in advance for your answers!).

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  13. says

    Wow, what a great list. I share your terror of what lurks below the surface of lakes and oceans. Even thinking about it makes me want to pull my feet up onto my chair.

    I would love to drive really fast. I spent a summer in Idaho learning to drive at the age of 14 and at one point, on our way to bible study (Hah!) I got the car up to 140 miles per hour. So, yes, I want to drive fast, but I mean really fast!

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    • says

      Well, I am WAY jealous of the 140 mph. But at 14? Wow, that’s the time to do it — all guts and adrenaline, right? Curious, once you do it, is it in the back of your mind whenever you drive, or maybe once in a while? “I could drive 140 mph. I’ve done it before…” (BTW, your description of pulling your feet up into your easy chair is exactly how I feel!) Thanks for reading and for the comment, Sara!

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  14. says

    Great post, Julia! I certainly relate to fiction as a means of living additional lives. And research is necessary to ground our stories in reality.

    That said… since adrenalin is our response to a threat, aka fear, the fact that you’re terrified of many of the extreme activities your character is drawn to may provide you with the very rush your character gets, ahead of time. :)

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    • says

      Thanks, Marialena, glad you can relate. And you make a very valid and good point that I never considered (so thank you again!)…to draw on my very real feelings of fear about the fear itself as a way to pinpoint and describe that rush. Thank you so much! (But you didn’t mention what scares you…are you an adrenaline junkie? or “merely” living more lives through your fiction?)

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  15. says

    Last year, I convinced my Ortho-surgeon to keep me awake so I could watch him perform my knee surgery. Does that constitute as funky? Hmm…maybe. Probably.

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    • says

      Not sure about funky but way brave! And it was probably pretty interesting. I’ve also had surgeries (more minor) without general anesthetic, and I guess you’re right, it was a bit funky and very surreal to watch cuts being made while I could feel (thankfully) nothing. Cool… hope you wrote about it! Thanks for the comment, Alison!

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  16. says

    I’m with you, Julia. I’m a born chicken. I’ve done #5 and #6. I was a really bad shot, but it gave me insight on what it feels like to hold and fire a gun. It’s not as easy as it looks. As for #6, I was born that way, which is challenging when trying to write female characters. Most of my research consists of visiting places I want to write about. I’m not much of a thrill seeker, I’m afraid.

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    • says

      Nice to meet another born chicken, C.G…. and thank you for the read and the comment! Actually, that’s one of the reasons I’m both scared of and fascinated by the idea of firing a gun — seeing how good a shot I am. I assume I’d be only so-so (as I was with archery), but hope I’d at least be able to aim in the safe direction (one of my fears…that I couldn’t or would be in line of fire of someone who couldn’t). I am so glad you brought up your challenge about writing as a female… yes. That’s exactly my feeling when writing from the male POV! I didn’t mention the visiting of places as research, but I’ve done that, too, and love it!

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  17. says

    Well, I took my ’62 Caddy to 105, just to see if it would top 100, and that was a memorable experience, because of the juddering, floating sense that the frame and the wheels were only in vague conversation. I did own a .22 rifle as an adolescent, which made no sense in my suburban neighborhood. And I have spent several days in jail (not prison), doing, hmm, research—yeah, that’s it.

    I have incorporated all these youthful follies into both stories and a novel, though not expressly as they happened (though the nonfiction piece I wrote about my idiotic handling of the gun was accurate to life).

    I disagree a mite with some of the comments that suggest that these experiences might constrict or taint their use as story elements; the characters which I larded with some antic fictional consequences drawn upon by these experiences were the better felt through the vividness of detail.

    But war zones and spelunking—get thee behind me Satan!

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    • says

      Your comment made me laugh out loud — thank you! What a story about your Caddy, wow! Great description. And with your story about your .22, you managed to roll my fascination with #5 and #6 into one: I have never met a woman (that’s not to say there aren’t any) who owned a rifle as an adolescent “which made no sense in my suburban neighborhood.” Add jail and well, you’ve got stories that must be fascinating reads….expecially when you add in “idiotic handling of the gun…”

      Like you, I don’t agree that experience might taint a story, because (for me) personal experience helps me write with more vivid detail.

      Thanks again for the laugh, Tom!

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  18. says

    I wanted to know more about martial arts and use of weapons for my story, so I joined the local hapkido (Korean martial arts) group and I’m having a great time. It’s not just learning how to defend yourself, it’s almost a way of life, a way to focus thoughts and energy. Plus hapkido is aimed at ending violence as quickly as possible, which is perfect for a pacifist like me ;-)

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  19. says

    Seriously, driving really fast on public streets? One additional bit of advice for writers, or anyone for that matter looking for a thrill to release one’s inner writer: please don’t put anybody in harm’s way by what you do.

    Of course as an erotica writer, there are ways we have of..uh..releasing our inner writers.

    Yes, I should be slapped for that, but then I might enjoy it. ;)

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    • says

      Yes, that caveat is critical: no thrill seeking at the cost or harm of another! But you bring up one of the things that has me a bit fascinated by adrenaline junkies (hence the interest in writing about them): those who do put others at risk (either willingly or unwittingly). Thanks for the read and the comment, Dan!

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  20. says

    I think writers are the most courageous people out there – you don’t sound scared to me – more like sane. :)

    I always joke if the NSA were spying on my internet activity, they’d put me on a list of potential threats. I do a lot of research about paramilitary activity, warheads and homemade bombs — the type of things you’d need to know in a man-made apocalypse situation.

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    • says

      I agree with you Simone. I tell people all the time, if someone were to check my Internet history they’d think I was a terrorist. I just reply, nope. I’m a writer.

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    • says

      I’m pretty sure I want you for my new best friend, Simone — what a nice comment and kind thing to say! As for Internet history… I’m with you. I research some pretty funky things (there was a militant antiwar demonstrator in my last WIP so I know what you mean about homemade bombs… me too). Here’s to being sane writers with a positive outlook on life. Thanks for your comment & kind words!

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  21. says

    Hmm I don’t think I’ve done the funkiest thing yet, but I am thinking about going hiking and exploring some caves for research. I would also like to learn how to shoot a gun, but not sure if that one will happen.

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    • says

      I would love to have the courage to explore caves… but, well, you read #9. Shooting a gun is truly fascinating, but like you, I’m not sure it will happen. Here’s to finding (and doing) that funkiest thing! Thanks for the read and comment, Brandi.

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  22. Elizabeth Foster says

    I quite liked the idea of about half of the experiences you listed, but doubt I would get around to most of them. I am however trying to gather the courage to learn scuba-diving as some of my book’s actions take place underwater – despite a fear of sharks and other things taking a bite of me.

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    • says

      Scuba diving! Yes, I too would have to gather my courage to take part… but I think it would be absolutely amazing. And although I imagine you can find plenty of photos, I’d probably be like you and want to experience it in order to write about it. Here’s to challenging our fears and fascinations — thanks for the read and the comment, Elizabeth.

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  23. sandy gardner says

    Julia,
    ps — I see that you live in Maine. Do you get to the New England Crimebake? Hope to see you there in November!
    Sandy Gardner

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  24. says

    Okay, I chuckled out loud when I read the part about being afraid of what lurks beneath the surfaces of lakes an oceans! We lived right on the lake in Lake Stevens, WA for about 2 years. Beautiful scenery! Towering pines surrounding the lake, bald eagles swooping down to catch fish, families playing in the water. Guess who was sitting on the dock? This chicken right here. You could only see a few feet in to the water and there was no way my chicken liver self was putting any part of my body in in that water.

    My husband laughed at me about it once and I remember saying, “Do you know what my imagination sees lurking in that water? One giant squid (yes, dear, I know it’s freshwater but stranger things have happened), one floating dead little boy with empty eyes, another dead little girl that’s not really dead and has a mouth full of fangs and who is totally waiting to yank me under, and any number of leeches or piranha – maybe both – and a couple of those freaky sea serpent things from The Princess Bride.”

    The kicker: all of my writing has an element of horror running through it. And I’m a total chicken.

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    • says

      Oh, man, Kendra, you just added big time to my fear of what lurks beneath the surface… dead bodies (or not dead with fangs) were never in the picture. But I guess they will be now. Interesting you write horror; sometimes I think I write to confront and examine my fears and maybe you’re the same way? Here’s to being two chickens on the dock–sounds good to me! Thank you so much for your comment and glad I could provide a chuckle!

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  25. says

    Understanding fear is a key part to this I feel. My grandfather always used to say that the bravest soldiers were those that managed to fight despite their fear. My fear is flying and for one bit of research on 2WW bomber crews,I went in a simulation of a night raid – not the real thing but got me a tad closer to them, as also got to sit in a Lancaster bomber.

    Never fired a gun at a person, but as an ex-hunter know what it feels like to fire one. But the pheasants don’t shoot back in England.

    Best adrenaline rush, verging on fear at moments, was white-water rafting in Yukon, hundreds of miles from any settlements and tackling uncharted waterfalls and whirlpools.

    But being in a wheelchair means my research has to be in my memories and online.

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    • says

      Thank you for such a helpful and insightful comment — this is certainly key to the war story I’m writing: “My grandfather always used to say that the bravest soldiers were those that managed to fight despite their fear.” Btw, I would love to go into a simulation situation like that (maybe that’s my answer).

      About your best adrenaline rush… I guess I forgot to add white water rafting to my list of fears, but that’s definitely high on my list of things I’d have to think long and hard about doing — sounds like the experience of a lifetime, though, and I hope if I had the opportunity I’d be brave enough to try!

      Thanks again for your comment and for the read.

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  26. says

    I have done a couple of things that I wouldn’t normally do if I weren’t writing about them. But the funkiest one I did was research strip joints. I talked to strippers and I got a tour of a strip joint in Boston.

    I did not strip personally, although people might think I should have gotten the full feel of what it’s like in order to write about it.

    That’s up for debate.

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    • says

      That is one of the funkier ones mentioned here in comments, I agree, and for me it would take a huge amount of bravery to do that research. As for having to actually strip to get the full feel and to know what it’s like — I’m with you, I’d have stopped short, even if my ability to write about it was up for debate. Still, this is so interesting to me, especially because I’ve heard that there’s a real adrenaline rush associated with stripping. So glad you commented, 4amWriter, you’ve given me more to think about!

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  27. says

    Great piece, grateful to join the dialogue! For my first novel, “Loop Dee Doo,” I drew on nearly two decades of experience sailing the Great Lakes and Eastern seaboard, completely terrified or merely freaked-out more times than I can count. I don’t have offshore issues and love what lies beneath (usually dolphins and sea turtles or in sweetwater, big trout and amazing rock-and-mineral formations). I’ve had rabid bats, a storm-wearied bluebird, determined terns, a pelican flirting for his share of simmering beef stew and even a vulture come aboard, so my Hitchcockian fear of birds has been banished. I’ve learned to combat my storm and wave fears by respecting weather forecasts and being very clear with my husband and other sailing partners about my own limitations about when it’s OK to venture out. But I’ve yet to come to terms with fear of heights. A former reporter, I’ve tried many things, from gun-range shooting with the cops to flying in an open stunt plane. I’d be comfortable interviewing anyone or doing almost anything — even stripping — as long as the task didn’t involve further explorations of violence or heights.

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    • says

      Wow, impressive list and not only do I admire your bravery but I think I’d feel very safe sailing with such an experienced and aware sailor! (BTW, my husband the pilot is way jealous of your open stunt plane flying) We may well be opposites in the “will do anything” department… except for interviewing. That’s one thing we do have in common — as long as I was safe, I can’t think of one person I’d feel nervous about talking to. Thanks for your comment and for sharing your perspective!

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  28. says

    “What’s the “funkiest research” you’ve done for a novel? What’s the funkiest—or scariest—thing you would might consider doing?”

    Under the funky category: I will soon be purchasing a really expensive crochet hook, that I don’t mind getting but really don’t need, just so I can then find out from a forensic pathologist, coroner or . . . someone, where on a person it would best be able to cause a lethal puncture.

    Of course, now I’m wondering if I should have even mentioned it. Will there be a sudden rash of death by crochet hook in mysteries before mine hits the market?

    So, in some ways, this has just become scary research as well. ;-)

    Thank you for this fun, and interesting, blog post!

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    • says

      YIKES!! That’s funky research all right. As for the fear factor from posting (and worrying about) posting something you’re writing about, I completely get that. Yes, another kind of fear altogether, which I definitely felt a pang of while writing about what I was researching and writing about. Glad you enjoyed and good luck w/ your funky research! :)

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