Sunday, June 26, 2011

Honey, should I be worried?

I know a little too much about arsenic. I have conducted extensive research into early autopsy techniques and even found myself drooling over a 100 year old embalming kit the other day (I'm still thinking about it).

When I decided my protagonist was going to be a Victorian surgeon, I knew there would be many times when I would need to describe dead bodies, bloody scenes, internal organs and, of course, the myriad of ways Victorians "off'd" each other. To be honest, nothing thrills me more. The writing part is only half the fun. I find just as much enjoyment out of reading everything I can about the Victorian era, especially when it comes to medicine, crime and the seedy underbelly that was once a major part of London life.

Lately I have been living, breathing and dreaming this stuff so it surprises me when other writers I know tell me "I hope you are doing you research because there are readers out there who will rip you to shreds." I really want to be indignant towards them. Of course I am researching this crap! What heck do you think I am doing? Pulling it out of my ass while hoping no one notices?

I can't blame them though. I don't really give off a (Jack the) Ripper-ologist vibe. I'm the mild mannered former reporter pecking at my keyboard. I don't talk about my work with... well anyone really. The few times when I ventured to read my work at a writer's meeting left me with sideways glances and perhaps a few less points on the 'respectability scale*'.

Thankfully no one bothers me too much and I am pretty much left to my own imaginary world of depravity and murder. Every once in a while though I can see the look on my husband's face when he finds my notebook open to a page of scribbles outlining methods of arsenic poisoning and how someone might avoid its detection. I am waiting for the day when he places a gentle hand on my arm and asks, "Honey, should I be worried?"

* I made that up. I'm a novelist, what do you expect?

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