Saturday, November 29, 2008

Random Acts of Research

You know how they say when you’re thinking about something, things that relate to it seem to keep showing up? I’m deeply involved with writing the fourth book in the crochet series for now titled Murder and the Marshmallow Stitch and yesterday along with this morning I kept running into things in the book.

We met my son’s girlfriend’s parents for the first time yesterday over Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant. Just after we sat down, the father started talking about his possible allergy to shrimp and since he hadn’t brought an epi pen with, he was going to forgo eating any.

Epi pen, allergy? Wow two important words in my current book. My immediate reaction was to start asking questions about the single shot devices that are used in extreme allergic reactions. I know they contain something like adrenalin and are used to treat anaphylactic shock, but there is more I don’t know. I’m sure the father would know, too. Not only does he possibly have allergies, he is also a retired plastic surgeon. But I stopped myself before I asked a single question. It was Thanksgiving and we’d just met. I didn’t even know if they knew I write murder mysteries. How odd would it have been if out of nowhere I started asking questions about ways to kill people?

After dinner, my husband, son and I went to the movies. As we were watching I felt my eyes open wider as I took in the details on the screen. The action in the story was affected by heavy fog. Wow, sort of like in my book. In the movie it was San Francisco which is almost where it is in my story. Mine takes place near Monterey Bay. I studied what the thick fog shrouding the Golden Gate Bridge looked like and was glad that someone else thought a crippling fog was believable.

And then the capper. This morning when I got up and looked out the window, it was foggy here. Not the thick crippling fog of my book, but foggy enough to see what it tasted like and how it softened the details of the redwood trees in the back of the yard.

A few asides. Although I laughed a number of times, I didn’t care much for the movie we saw - Four Christmases. I thought the tone was uneven, but mostly I just didn’t like the main characters. But on a more positive note, my son is sure his girlfriend’s father would love to talk about the death stuff with me. Yay, another source.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who keeps running into things that relate to what they’re working on. What about the rest of you?


Monica Ferris said...

Is the word synchronicity? Things seem to come together when I'm going strong on a book, I'll need a certain piece of information and find it close at hand. I don't know how it happens -- perhaps my unconscious mind saw something and triggered the book and then my conscious mind was surprised to find the trigger. Or maybe it's my muse. Or my guardian angel. Whatever, I'm grateful.

South Jersey Quilter said...

An epi pen contains epinephrine, which is adrenalin. Some are one shot, some are called a twinjet and contain 2 doses, but the second dose needs a syringe.
There's a funny flaw to the design of some of them. If you hold your thumb on the top to brace it, and you're holding it upside down, you can shoot yourself in the thumb, which means you also get to go to the ER. (I'm referrring to when one person is giving another the dose). That happened to a sub school nurse- they ended up with 2 ambulances. And you could lose your hand!
The epi pen people put out a dummy epi pen to use as a trainer.
Hope this helps!
Holly, a school nurse

Kathryn Lilley said...

Speaking of killer fogs, we get them all the time in my southern california seaside town. They cling to the shoreline, and evaporate rapidly as you move inland toward the desert. And don't forget the yearly, deadly pile-ups that occur on the Interstates in sudden, unexpected patches of fogs. That has repeatedly shown to be killer fog...

Camille Minichino said...

All this is ok when you're well-established, like Monica.

But I remember when I was writing my first book and things like that freaked me out -- I was so afraid someone else was writing the exact same book and would get it to a publisher before I did!

Now I know every book has its own DNA.

Betty Hechtman said...

Yes, Monica, synchronicity was the word I was looking for.

Thanks for the info South Jersey Quilter. Yes, it does help.

Kathryn, I thought about those fogs that cause the pile ups on the 5 or the 99. They really are killer fogs.

Camille, good way of putting it - that every book has its own DNA.