Authors are crazy.
If we’re not talking to the voices in our heads, then we’re out doing things that normal humans don’t usually do voluntarily. (i.e. hunting zombies.)
I’m a firm believer in real experiences. As thrilling as it is to create new world or send characters on adventures, it’s more thrilling to experience it in real life. After all, that’s why I write — to inspire people to go out and pursue life. It’s another reason I read, because who knows when Lord of the Rings will inspire me to go on a walking quest?
So, just for fun, here are 10 things I’ve done in crazy name of novel research:
1. Walked a tightrope four stories off the ground (yes, I had a harness.) Also walked on slacklines without a harness.
2. Rode on a dogsleed, driving as the musher
3. Crawled across a river on a log
4. Crossed the Panama Canal on a ship, camping on the lake in between canals.
5. Chased down a boxcar train to record sounds, movement, and the size of boxcars.
6. Ate grilled cattails
7. Sailed on the open sea for four days, getting ridiculously seasick.
8. Ate a raw potato
9. Rock climbed real cliffs and man-made rock walls, as well as frayed ropes to get the right feel.
10. Walked through a cattail pond barefoot to get an idea of what it’d be like to be stuck in one for weeks.
I’ve gone on other adventures, but if I told you what they were then it would give away what’s going to happen in book two (and three) of the Out of Time series. But after doing all these things over the years (trust me…there’s more) I’ve found myself thinking along the lines of adventure more often. I push myself. I want to experience more and more of life. I’m often asked, “How do you describe this or that so accurately?”
It’s simple. I try to live it, first.
If you’re an author or artist, what have you done for the sake of research and experience?