I often write about the joys of doing research for what we are writing.
In general, I tend to do a lot of research “on the fly” when writing short fiction – like using Google to find out what’s the most popular brand of beer in Arkansas or the timetables of trains to and from Paris.
So, when I am writing short fiction – or when I get major doubts while cleaning up a first draft – my first stops are, unsurprisingly, Google and Wikipedia, with Pinterest (now that I can access it again) as the go-to place for visual references, and YouTube for action-related info.
For longer works, I still rely on books, and as far as online resources are concerned, I go for a MOOC whenever possible.
I think it was Mary Gentle (wonderful writer – her Rats and Gargoyles is highly recommended) that said that university courses are the best way to do all the research you need on a subject with the minimum of fuss.
And right now I am following Introduction to Ancient Egypt and Its Civilization with the University of Pennsylvania, to which I’ll add a course in general Archaeology that starts on Futurelearn tomorrow.
This makes six courses in Archaeology (plus three other in History) followed in two years – not bad, it’s almost like following a BA in a local university.
And also, it helps to keep the rust off the synapses – idleness and routine are bad for our brains, the doctors say, and learning new things is good.
And while the Egyptian stuff is obviously useful for both Aculeo & Amunet and the Contubernium stories, and Leo Vincent of The Corsair has connection with the art trafficking milieu, archaeology and Egypt are going to figure prominently in my next project – the one that was supposed to go to Angry Robot, but will not, and will re-emerge instead as something different, to be announced soon-ish.
I’ve also started a Pinboard on Pinterest about Egypt, just to make sure I’ll have references and links all collected in a single place.
So, once again, it’s a matter of killing as many birds with a single stone as possible.
Let’s see what comes out of it.