Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reasonable Research

I lead a very adventurous life. No, I’m not an Olympian or a soldier. I’m an actor with a bad case of wanderlust, a willing husband, and a love of writing. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a job that allows me to travel for work all the time. I’ve spent three summers in Alaska, toured the country on a bus, and right now, I’m performing down in Southwest Florida.

Being able to travel has always been a huge source of inspiration for me. My husband and I managed to run away to Thailand for a few weeks in January, and I came back bursting with so many ideas, I now have the rest of my writing year planned out. But what do you do when beautiful scenery meets an epic idea and the details need to be perfect? Research.

For The Tethering series, the research I did was mostly travel times from one place to another, geography and topography of specific locations, including a nice (and slightly brutal) hike to the top of a mountain, and looking through a lot of legends of magical creatures. Perhaps a little extreme with the hiking through the wilderness, but standard research.

For the ballet novella I released last Christmas, I was able to draw upon the years I spent in pointe shoes and leotards as well as my experience as a professional music theatre performer. And the gaps I needed to fill I pulled from a college classmate who is now a professional ballet dancer.

But the new project, the one that complicates it all, is a little more difficult. I needed to learn about plants, and greenhouses, and conservation, and a dozen other things. Not that I want to describe to my readers exactly how to pollinate plants in a closed environment, but it’s little details like that that solidify world building.

I’ve been to atriums, bio domes, and even the greenhouses of Disney’s Epcot, trying to make sure that the smell is right and the light feels right in the book. And I’ve loved all of it. I will never be a botanist or an architect, and I’ll probably never create my own underground irrigation system. But getting to learn the details of creating suitable environments for exotic plants is so cool! And now I really want to build a vertigrower and grow plants without soil just because it’s possible.

Maybe somewhere deep down I already knew that sustainable living within a bio dome was a fascinating subject and that’s why the story came out. Maybe greenhouses are just super cool. But having the opportunity to research a new field or world is one of the greatest things about being an author. Even if it’s just a fantasy, I can create a greenhouse for my characters to live in. And I have a new obsession that may eventually turn edible-hobby to boot!

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