Sunday, September 28, 2008

Why research is fun...

Things I've learned while researching for my latest wip:

  • you can start a fire by mixing potassium permanganate and glycerin, two common items in a survival/first-aid kit.
  • a handful of termites is about 550 calories of yummy goodness
  • grasshoppers are a great source of omega-3 oil
  • there is such a thing as a grizzly bear - polar bear hybrid. It's rare, but it has happened both in captivity and in the wild
  • dragon skin body armor is really cool

  • Ka-Bar knives have been around for over 100 years (though not always called that) -- here's how it got it's famous name:
Soon after its introduction in the mid-1920's, the KA-BAR trademark became widely known and respected. There have been many versions of how the KA-BAR name came to be, but all evidence points to a letter received from a fur trapper. This particular fur trapper's testimonial turned out to be the most significant ever received by the company. He wrote, in very rough English, that his gun had jammed and that he had therefore relied on his knife to kill a wounded bear that was attacking him. In thanking the company for their quality product the trapper described using his knife to kill the bear. All that was legible of his scrawled writing was "k a bar". The company was so honored by this testimonial that they adopted this phrase and used it as their trademark, KA-BAR.

This is why I love being a writer.
What's the most interesting piece of information you picked during WIP research? Enquiring bloggers want to know!


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

About that fire-starting... it even makes a fire you can cook over. We do it at Cub Scout camp; it's fast, easy, and the boys are entranced.

Wylie Kinson said...

Aha -- A person with PRACTICAL experience!!
Thanks for chiming in, SHG.

Thomma Lyn said...

Those are all very interesting facts! It's a lot of fun, researching for books. Research for Occam's Razors was fun because I'm a science nerd, but there was much I put in the book which I already knew. Research for Mirror Blue was interesting because of the Vietnam angle, and research for Thy Eternal Summer was a trip -- haha, pun intended -- because of the airplane angle!

And for my current work, Heart's Chalice, I'm researching metaphysical and mythical stuff as part of my worldbuilding, everything from Greek myths to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Plus I've had to do quite a bit of research about New York, esp. Brooklyn!

Yup, I love being a writer!

Jane said...

Thanks for the info on the Ka-Bar knives. I've read many books where the hero uses a Ka-Bar knife but I never bothered to Google it to see what they look like.

Julia Smith said...

It's hard to pick one thing among all the fascinating stuff I've come across in research. But most of the Australian convict info has been really heartbreaking. It haunted me that a gang of men were stuffed into what amounts to a travelling prison cell overnight as they built the roads through Tasmania.

Wylie Kinson said...

Julie - that sounds horrific. Though I'd love to know what wip lead you down that path!

Jane - I aim to please :D

TL - all your books (that I've read) have such interesting tidbits and depth of knowledge that I just assumed you were brilliant in all those topics. The veil of illusion is lifted...

Shelley Munro said...

The polar/grizzly bear thing was interesting. I'm curious - really curious - about what you're writing at the moment.

I can't think of any facts in particular but my recent research has been about tea leaf reading and FIV (feline aids). I enjoy learning new things.

M. said...

I'm almost afraid to know what you're writing about!

I'd heard of the bear thing before, I guess it's similar to a liger.Someone sent me a youtube clip of one once, a honking big cross between tiger and lion. He looked like something cooked up by a second rate special effects team, not as though he could be realistic.

I feel a NaNoWriMo dare coming on!

Wylie Kinson said...

m. - you doing NaNo??? Brave soul!

Shelley - can't give more info on the wip just yet. Not until I'm at least 1st-draft finished. 'Fraid to blow the mojo, y'know?

Julia Smith said...

Wylie - if you go to my fiction excerpt archives in my sidebar, and read the Gardener stories about Robbie and Helen - that's the WIP that involves the convict research.