Research is a perk of this job

I’ve written about the perils of fiction research before. Now I want to share some of the fun.

Writers are masters of the arcane. Historical fiction research will make you an expert on a particular time and place, a single town in a single year, down to the slang and eating utensils. Mystery writers know more about police procedure than anyone but a cop. And writers of thrillers and adventure fiction know seven different ways to kill you where you stand.

It’s all learned in moments of spare time, on late nights and early mornings. Reminds me that the root of amateur means love.

I’m reminded of this because I’m editing the draft of Here Be Dragons — Book 3 of the Tales of the New World series — and I find myself looking again and again at pictures in my ancient copy of the US Army Survival Manual. I’ve been looking at these pictures for three novels now… and they’re all about wilderness survival.


This is a “figure 4” deadfall trap. Young Simon sees Bogg craft these three sticks, and realizes there’s more to his uncle than he thought.


When Simon and Bogg get deep into the snowy wilderness of Mira, they need to create a warm shelter to survive. Bogg digs the snow out from around a tree, and they have themselves a stealthy little hiding spot.


This is bracken fern — delicious if you happen to be starving. Simon and Bogg survive on this for a time in the deep woods of Mira.


And here is a vivet-style campfire. Flames are below ground, hard to spot from a distance. If branches above disperse the smoke, the villains won’t see you sneaking up on them.


This is Sam the Novel Dog. He’s not in any book… yet.


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