Wednesday, August 31, 2016

In the name of research

As an author, I find my characters often have secrets. In fact, one of the tenets of fiction writing is that characters are SUPPOSED to have secrets, but when they keep them from their creator, that can be interesting. Of course, that's part of what makes writing so much fun!

I'm about halfway through the second Epitaph book and I found that my hero is hiding something. Originally, I thought it was one thing, but it has turned into something else, which has sent me on Internet searches.

The Epitaph series is decidedly supernatural, with ghosts and spirits and haunted houses, but sometimes I'm amazed at the way the research falls right in my lap. My hero is a carpenter, which means he works with wood on a daily basis, but generally not soft wood. So imagine my surprise when I was looking for a type of wood that would fit my criteria for the story and stumbled on Palo Santo. This is definitely NOT something Jared would look for in his everyday job, but it provides interesting backstory, and a secret that he doesn't want the world to know.

I will admit that while I was looking into this fragrant wood, which is used more for incense and essential oil, that I reached a point where I rolled my eyes and shook my head. Even I, as someone who appreciates a supernatural bent, had reached saturation. In fact, at one point I'd talked myself out of pursuing the "Holy Wood." These little babies in the picture? The person who makes them recommends hanging them in the shower (out of the water stream) to bring out the scent of the wood.

Today's writing journey is exploratory. I have two chapters outlined BEFORE the discovery of palo santo that need to be written, and there is a local shop I'd like to visit before I commit to Jared's secret.

Even if palo santo doesn't work with the current story, I've learned something new, and I always enjoy the journey.


  1. I love uncovering secrets. And I hear you on the research traps--when my son was in 2nd grade, he hated Tuesday night spelling homework because he was supposed to look up the words on his list. I asked why, since it's a 'no-brainer' kind of assignment, and he said, "Because I always find other interesting words."

    1. When I wrote my first book, I got lost in all kinds of research! I found things I never knew about in relation to subjects I thought I was pretty well versed with. At some point, I reminded myself of the theme of the book and set all the excess information to the side. Part of being an author, I believe, is our thirst for knowledge.