Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 16, 2009

Strange Questions

I find myself asking strange questions when I write. How long did it take a steam ship to cross the Atlantic in the 1920s? How long did early flashlight batteries last? When did they invent Christmas tree lights?

 

One characteristic of most writers I know is their insatiable curiosity. (Do laser beams ricochet?) I think that’s one of the greatest draws for me—constantly learning something new. I am currently learning how to pick locks, play Chinese checkers, and do some basic martial arts. When you’re writing a historical novel, like my middle grade adventure The Egyptian Enigma (set in 1922 Philadelphia), the learning curve is steep. (Did Philadelphia have any traffic signals then? Did police use photographs in their crime scene investigations?) But it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

 

I’ll admit, I was the kid in college who loved to hear that we had a research paper as part of a class. Digging into information, finding the facts I needed, putting together pieces of the puzzle—it was great fun for me. My husband will tell you, I can’t walk away from an unfinished puzzle. It’s an addiction.

 

I’ve always said I would love to be a perpetual student, and I find that, as a writer, I actually am. There’s always another question to answer, another avenue to explore, another fact to track down, all in the name of world-building.

 

Now, when did they “invent” chunky peanut butter?

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