Upfront I'll confess, My name is Megan Kerans and I'm a research nerd. I love discovering new knowledge almost as much as figuring out how to use the information to make my stories better and more realistic.
Almost all authors I know usually do research for their stories. For contemporary writers it might be a city or career field. Those who pen historicals might look up the dress of a specific time period or how a knight's armor was created.
I love it all. Give me a stack of books on an interesting subject and I'm as happy as a clam reading away. But there are some things, no matter how much you read, you simply have to do to understand. One of those is swordplay. Errol Flynn & Basil Rathbone's famous duel in Captain Blood.
Growing up watching Errol Flynn's Adventures of Robin Hood, Star Wars, and having ancestors who were actual Musketeers I've always had a fascination with fencing. So much so, I took a class in college. I didn't have a very good teacher (really poor to be honest), but I did love it.
Ten years later I found myself a writer who had more and more sword scenes in her stories. They're always great fun to watch, but the problem was, how to take something so inherently visual and put it into words to create a picture that excited a reader.
It's tough. Over six months I read books on the subject, searched the Internet, and repeatedly mentioned I wanted to take up fencing again. I, of major back problems, wasn't certain I could do it with my lengthy, lengthy list sports I had to give up or only consider ever doing if I became a masochist.
Over Memorial Weekend, on a whim, I decided to check our local school district's summer adult education courses. For the first I can remember fencing was listed, an eight week class. I jumped up from the computer, grabbed my Visa and signed up. (Strictly to improve my understanding of the movements for writing. At least, that's what I told my husband.)
Early 20th century French postcard.
Six months, dozen of hours of practice and three swords later, fencing has become I love of mine for itself. What other sport contains elegant violence that requires as much brains and physical skill?
Fencing also just happens to come with multiple benefits Not only do I great workout (muscles you never knew you had,) I'm able to write fight scenes much clearer and quicker. It's also led me to new avenues of research, such as duels of honor, which even inspired me to put together a workshop on the topic and how writers can use craft techniques & elements to improve the edged weapon scenes in their stories.
So my question is:
Authors, what is the most bizarre or unique subject you've ever researched for a story?
Readers, is there a topic you've ever been sparked to investigate after reading a book and what was it?