Weird Things I had to research while writing Take The Highway 55


While writing Take The Highway, I found myself in need of knowledge I didn’t posses. Online dating. Something I knew nothing about and have never experienced. Since the main character in the novel is going through it I had to become an expert. As a married person, I can’t simply go ahead and try it out. Instead, I found myself reading everything I could get my hands on about the subject. Advice books on how to successfully navigate dating sites and emerge on the other side with a life partner. First hand accounts of horror stories from the seedy side of electronic matchmaking. I watched documentaries. Read how-to manuals from experts of all sorts. At one point I had a stack of books about online dating that reached to my waist by the side of my bed. Every night before going to bed I would grab one of the books and read myself to sleep. One fine evening,I came home to find my husband sitting by the the side of the bed looking forlorn. He was staring at my stack of books. “Is this a hint? Should I be worried?” he said. I laughed. “No, no, no, no. These books are not for me, they are for the character in my novel. I can’t go out and try online dating, but I can read about it.” My husband exhaled. “Oh! Ok! I was worried something else was going on.” I sat next to him and we had a good laugh at my tower of online dating books.

And then came time to choose an iconic car made in the sixties or seventies that I wanted to weave into the narrative. “How did I choose which car to include in the story?” I hear you ask. Not by looks. Not by speed. Not by make. Not by color. Oh no. Those things would be too conventional and easy. I wanted to be able to describe the sound of the engine of that car in poetic terms. So I spent days and days listening to recorded engine sounds of a variety of car from that era. One day I was standing at the kitchen counter hunched over my laptop listening to a particular car engine sound. My left ear nearly touching the speakers. Can you fall in love with the vroooom, vroooooooooooooom, vroooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom sound of a car? It has to be the right vroom, vroom, vroom sound. Can’t be just anything, Right? My daughter walked in. “Mom! What are you doing?” she looked alarmed. “I am listening to car engine sounds.” I replied. “Why?” She asked scrunching he face. “I need to find the right engine sound for the novel.” I said. My daughter shook her head. “Mom! You are so weird.”  Well! Writers are weird. All that engine sound research resulted in two or three sentences in the novel. Most readers won’t register that hard work that went into writing those few words. And yet I feel that it was worth the effort. It was the right engine sound for the story. I think writing novel is good fit for obsessive personalities like myself.

And then came the ultimate challenge. A topic I had to research that I don’t want to learn about. In fact, I feel an aversion to the whole thing. Guns. I know nothing about guns. Furthemore, I don’t want to know about guns. But the story of Take The Highway was going to have some fire arms and so what could I do? Here is the big question. How do you learn about guns if you don’t want to handle a gun? I was afraid to google “How to use a gun?” for fear that the secret service would show up at my door. Luckily for me I was able to find a few books at the public library that talk about how to write about guns.This time I hid the books under my bed so that my family wouldn’t make any far fetched assumption. Then I read a bunch of Steven King novels that have gun use in them. I allowed that to be my inspiration. “Let’s assume that Steven KIng researches what he writes about.” I told myself. In truth. On this topic I still feel shaky on. Unfortunately for me, I am not done with it. Since I already know that a future novel will have plenty of firearms use, I will have to be shore up my knowledge of this subject in the future. If you have any recommendations of books to read, I would appreciate it.

Writing a novel is a weird thing. It forces me to step out of my comfort zone and try things that would never occur to me otherwise. The satisfaction of holding a book in my hand in the end makes all it worth it.

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