Friday, 20 February 2015

The need to get it right

Oh, research. I love it.

Really, I love it. I once had a job as a researcher and I would like to boast that I know how to work a microfiche machine. I bet nobody under about thirty-five can say that. I started to try to explain to my nine year old daughter what a microfiche machine was, but soon gave up when she asked if it was a bit like Google. Not really. Still, it's a lost art, and I was a dab hand.

This book has me researching lots of things from modern farming techniques to hunting for mushrooms, train timetables to things that might go wrong with an Aga.

Way back before the children came along I was a hand therapist and I used to make splints for people with a huge range of hand injuries but my information is a decade out of date so I've written to an old friend to see if they can fill some gaps for me because a character in my book is going to need their services.

How long does the average cat live? Just your common or garden moggy?

What's the best way to break into a car if you've left your keys inside (and what model of car that would permit such an oversight in these days of central locking, might still be on the road?)

The perfect soft-boiled egg. Four minutes, or four and a half? What size egg?

Can badgers climb? Can they jump?

Mending a leaky roof? The correct way to prune roses, and when might they flower? How long does it take to milk a herd of cows?

How do you use a twin-tub washing machine?

Got to get it right. I hate it when I read a book and the author is obviously talking about something he doesn't know about, or asserts that something is so when it isn't. On the other hand, I love it when I learn about something while reading a novel; when the author clearly knows her stuff.

I want to know my stuff. If I can't find things out, or find somebody who knows, I'll find another way to tell the story.

In the meantime, I'm having a lovely time with my research.

Image credit:
by Alvimann
Courtesy of
Used with permission

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