05 April 2013

Curiosity Made an Author

I’m insatiably curious. Before the advent of cable TV and the internet that character trait got me into all kinds of trouble because reading the books available to me (including the encyclopedia) wasn’t enough. I used to try and get into people’s business. I wanted to know everything and sometimes the only way to understand was to boldly go where most others had sense not to venture. Now people reveal the most intimate details online, even stuff I’d hesitate to talk to my husband about.

Yeah. The interwebs is my friend. It provides me with more fodder than I could ever use. My ‘favorites’ folder is filled with sites that provide obscure information about a huge variety of subjects but, strangely enough, I rarely turn to it for inspiration. Instead, it’s actually a by-product of roaming the internet researching an idea, hoping to find something to fill it out. The inspiration itself comes from that basic part of my character, which hasn’t changed with age—I’m still horribly curious.

I’ll hear a passing comment on the bus, see a picture on TV, read an article in the newspaper or online, and something in my brain goes, “TWANG! What was that???” It can be one little thing, one little detail, and I’m all over it like a cheap suit. Richard the Lionheart spent very little of his reign in England. Remains of red-haired Caucasians were found in ancient Chinese tombs. Vikings blanketed the known world during their heyday. The ancient Romans had dildos. Ballroom floors were chalked, sometimes with elaborate murals done by talented artists, before balls.

Any tiny snippet of information can set me off and the next thing I know, I’m researching and then weaving a story—usually either in the shower or in bed, as I drift to sleep. Often the storyline starts with, “Suppose…” or “What if…”. Sometimes the evolving story doesn’t even include the piece of information I started out with, but without that kernel, that catalyst, the story wouldn’t have come into being at all.

So, if we happen to meet in person and are talking, and I suddenly look as though I’m in a trance, you’ve probably said something to get my twisty, turny brain whirling. But don’t worry, I change all the names in my stories to protect both the innocent and the guilty! J
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