Search Engine Junkie

I love hearing from my fans, and a recent letter asked whether the facts in my books came from my personal experience, and/or how much research I generally do. That gave me a rueful giggle, because it revealed yet another variety of my kryptonite.

First the short answers: ‘Mostly’; and ‘Lots’.

The auto-mechanic and home-renovation details come from hands-on experience, and Aydan’s wild motorcycle ride in Book 2 commemorates a few butt-puckering moments from riding an unfamiliar bike many years ago. The fight scenes are loosely based on real life, but they’re exaggerated all to hell (and I’ve been luckier than Aydan with my outcomes).

I love shooting, but I only kill paper targets. Art and food and music and computer-geekery are big parts of my life, too. Aydan’s athletic exploits have been adapted from my various adventures, particularly the falling-on-my-butt parts. (No comment on her other ‘adventures’ – that would give a whole new meaning to ‘hands-on experience’.) 😉

But the rest of it? The internet is my best friend and worst addiction – I research everything down to the tiniest detail.  Just for laughs, here are about half of my search phrases from the last 7 days:

  • Slang for senior citizens1
  • Do bees defecate2
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Can a laser burn through glass or mirror3
  • Infrared frequency ranges
  • What does your favourite flavour of ice cream say about your personality4
  • Xylophone
  • Bohemian waxwing
  • Festival of Lights Diwali
  • Elements associated with zodiac signs
  • Extranet
  • Female fertility
  • Jack Paar
  • Sarongs
  • Kitten heels
  • Batik
  • Dwarf hardy hibiscus
  • Plural possessive form of elk5
  • Particle physics hadron
  • Is physics plural6
  • Do bears hunt at night7
  • How long after death can a cadaver dog find a body8
  • How long before decomposition starts9
  • Most common size of men’s shoes10
  • Plural of penis11
  • Baboon red bottom
  • Pheromones
  • Crowd control weapons
  • Flies sense of smell
  • Military slang Afghanistan
  • Surgery to replace missing fingers with toes
  • Do bears vomit12
  • Customs brokerage
  • Do people have unique electromagnetic fields13
  • Can getting hit in the testicles cause infertility14
  • Which substances are transparent to infrared
  • Walking with blade prosthetic legs
  • Hipster slang
  • Braking system on a Smart car
  • Lasers
  • Masers
  • DNA sequencing

For those of you who are speculating: Yes, it’s all related to Book 11, but don’t try to put it all together – I also use research to help me exclude ideas. (So don’t worry; none of the male characters are about to suffer a vicious blow to the nuts.)

And, because I know some of these search questions will stick like a brain-burr until you know the answers, here you go:

  1. Gerries seems to be the current favourite (short for geriatrics), but geezers is still a top choice.
  2. Yes, but they never dump inside the hive – they go on ‘cleansing flights’. If the weather has kept them inside for too long, it’s more like a strafing run with scatter bombs.
  3. Yes, but if you had a cutting laser and a perfect reflection you’d be in trouble.
  4. You’ll have to read Book 11 to find out.
  5. Both elk’s and elks’ are acceptable.
  6. Yes and no. It’s complicated. Kinda like physics.
  7. Bears hunt anytime.
  8. Cadaver dogs can even find bare bones.
  9. Immediately, but the stinky phase starts anywhere from a few hours to a few days after death, depending on the heat and humidity of the environment.
  10. 10. No, seriously; ten is the most common men’s shoe size.
  11. Both penises and penii are acceptable. (And that sentence just begs for a dirty joke.)
  12. Yes, but rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, horses, and Japanese quail can’t vomit.
  13. Unproven by science, but aura-readers say they can see the electromagnetic fields.
  14. Yes, but it’s unlikely unless you suffer a complication like internal bleeding or torsion.

What oddball questions have you researched lately?