Monday, March 24, 2014

Researching and Writing Zombies

Doing research is often a necessary part of writing, especially if you are writing about a certain period of time.

Of course, if you're writing about zombies your research will be different. You may need to look up or ask someone knowledgeable (and should) about different weapons and how they work; decay rates in bodies; how poisons or other things affect the body; entomology (bugs that affect bodies); and all that other good stuff that fits into a horror or zombie story.

If you are using a historical setting or time period, then your research adds more layers to your story. I've been working on a zombie book that also fits into a certain time period, specifically 1892. Now to make it easier on myself and as the book is not what you'd call a "historical" novel, I am not focusing on the history part except where it depicts specific events in a real person's life. As it is a dual story, I also have to make sure I add in this person's interactions and reactions to zombies in almost every chapter.

The key part to writing a project like this is using materials from the period to base my story on without going overboard since this is a zombie book also. But I can give a sense of the time by making references to certain things available then - that's where the research comes in.

 It can be pretty interesting and fun learning new facts. You can set the time by  making references to things going on then or what was available - what was the popular song or a singer of the time; what play or vaudeville show was popular; or comparing something that would be in a character's frame of reference at the time. Dropping in a few references is enough without overdoing it.

For instance, here's one I found.... Did you know some of the National League baseball teams of 1892 had such odd names like the Chicago Colts, the Boston Beaneaters or the Brooklyn Bridegrooms?

Or that there were a lot of suicides from morphine use in 1892?  Even a doctor committing suicide?
* Did you know The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August and published in September, 1892?
* Did you know in April, 1892 a private army went to Wyoming to kill a bunch of cattlemen?
-- Christine Verstraete

Some other interesting references:

* National League Baseball, 1892  - Baseball almanac
* News, deaths  from morphine, 1892
* Accidental death of cigar packer from too much morphine
* Trial - brothel keeper killed by husband with morphine  (Yikes! The demonstration involved bringing a cat into court and shooting it with morphine and other poisons to demonstrate how the pupils dilated as it died. Talk about cruel!)
* Past Patterns
* Vintage clothes, pattern ads - 1890's (and other years)
* Historical Events by year  (1892)
* Popular plays, 1892

Have fun researching and reading!

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