“What are some of the coolest/weirdest/funniest/most disturbing things you’ve researched for a story?”
This is going to be fun.
I have looked up:
- What color violet eyes actually are (they're either pale greyish or dark, dark blue)
- Names that mean "Stupid" (there aren't any)
- "Weird antiques" so I could put some in a fictional antique shop
- The history of bottled water
- Crimes punishable by death
- Ossuaries (really, really want to put one in a story. Maybe as part of a prison)
- A bit about the Barbary Pirates, specifically the capture and sinking of the USS Philadelphia.
- Medieval herbal medical practices (From a book my family owns. That book scares me. They used highly toxic convallaria [lily of the valley] as medicine.)
- Making candles
- Growing and using various kinds of natural dyes (indigo, sumac, madder, etc)
- The branding of slaves (This was an image search. Didn't find what I was looking for.)
- Different kinds of weird silverware
- Thatching for roofs
- Old fashioned names
I've had the urge to write historical fiction (not the story referred to above) since my Anatomy and Physiology class went to the Indiana Medical History Museum, which is housed in what used to be the pathology building for the no-longer-existent Central State Hospital for the Insane. Oh yeah. Now I really want to set a story there in the 1900s, a few years after the pathology building opened. Other than visiting the museum, I haven't done any research, but I really want to. They had books there from 1850. 1850! Books the original doctors had brought with them when the building opened. And this pair of old, real human skeletons that they had ordered in the day from a medical supply catalog (Just a little creepy...). Oh, and all the old equipment. They had an autopsy table from the 1920s. And this really cool pH color comparer thing...
Okay, I'll stop now. I need to actually come up with a story to set there.
Another cool historical thing I stumbled upon once was a set of local coroner's records from 1896 to 1935. I didn't go out looking for them (I accidentally found them on my library's website), but I think I did use them as a historical reference for a story idea that ended up dying. (Dying, coroner's reports, ha.) Depressing, really depressing, but fascinating. Several people got hit by trains. Swallowing acid was a popular form of suicide. Lots of babies died. Teenage boys were stupid. Oh, and there was this murder... which I don't remember all the details to at the moment, and actually there were several murders, but If you want to read more about what I found, I posted a bit about them a while back in this post.
So, there's my post, with a bonus ramble about historical loony bins. Big thanks to John from TCWT for letting me host this month, and to all the bloggers who participated in the chain. Here's a list of all the participants (you should totally check them out):
19th – http://www.mandilynn.com/
30th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain)
And a wondrous day/night/morning/midnight/mid-afternoon/whatever to you.