The fantastic Gail Z. Martin is stopping in today, as part of her Days of the Dead tour, to share her thoughts on Addictive Research, and celebrate her latest releases, Vendetta, and Iron and Blood. I love this article–she sounds a lot like me. And, she’s offering some great Trick-0r-Treat items, just for readers–see the links at the end!
Just one more. I’ll quit after one more, I swear.
That’s your inner research junkie talking. One more link, one more web page, one more book or chapter in the research book, one more biography, one more footnote. Hyperlinks let researchers mainline information, jumping from site to site, following Alice’s White Rabbit farther and farther down the hole.
To everyone who hated writing research papers in school, I’ve got one thing to say—you didn’t know what you were missing. Get good at research, document your sources, find good primary sources, and you can challenge authority figures and stand your ground. You can overturn accepted thinking and chisel away at deceptive reasoning. Armed with definitive experts, unimpeachable documentation, excellent analytical skills and persuasive writing ability, you become Conan, the librarian. Demagogues tremble and empires crumble before the blinding light of your research.
Every author I know loves research. It’s our guilty pleasure, and if we’re not careful, our worst time vampire. Get a bit of writer’s block? Do some research. Odds are, you’d happen upon a few cool facts that blow away your mental obstacle and present a path to reach your goal. On the other hand, if you feel like procrastinating you can do “research” all afternoon, following your curiosity like a hound on the scent of a fox (or a Golden Retriever on the scent of a squirrel), and come away with knowledge that will make you killer at Trivial Pursuit but doesn’t get you any farther on your writing project.
Some aspiring authors get lost in their research and forget to ever write the book. This is particularly dangerous if you’re a perfectionist. No matter how much you research, you’ll never know everything about your subject. There’s always the chance that the next tidbit of information you’d uncover might be even more amazing than the last one. You become the intellectual equivalent of a gambler addicted to the slot machines, pulling that lever and hoping for a jackpot. Next time. Next time. You feel lucky.
Sometimes, writers use research as an excuse not to write because something about the writing is causing anxiety. Maybe you’re afraid that this book won’t be as good as the last one, or as good as the hype claims it will be. Perhaps you don’t want to reach the end of a series, or kill off a favorite character, or write a difficult scene. Research becomes a legitimate delaying tactic, a way no one can say you aren’t working, but you’re not really working. You’re hiding in the stacks, hoping no one notices.
The day-to-day reality lies somewhere in between research as a superpower and research as an addiction. Yes, research can be like the dynamite that blows away a rockslide and clears the road, helping you see a path to reach your story objectives. And yes, it can be a monkey on your back, whispering that ‘one more couldn’t hurt’.
What saves me, and I suspect most writers, is that the call of the story in our minds is even louder than the seductive whisper of research. If I’m fully invested in writing a story, I want to see how it ends. (Sounds silly, but there are a lot of things that come up spur-of-the-moment that surprise the writer, and we live for those moments.) Ultimately, that’s my beacon out of the Valley of the Lotus Eaters, the field of poppies. When temptation becomes overwhelming, I shut off my wi-fi and remind myself that I’ve got a story to write.
My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/2015/10/22/days-of-the-dead-blog-tour-tricks-treats-and-scary-good-stuff/
Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors http://on.fb.me/1h4rIIe before 11/1!
Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world here http://bit.ly/1ZXCPVS Launches Dec. 29
More Treats! Enter to win a copy of Deadly Curiosities! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/160181-deadly-curiosities
Treats! Enter to win a copy of Iron & Blood! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/160182-iron-blood
About the Author
Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.
Other books include The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) from Orbit Books and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books.
Gail writes four series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures, The King’s Convicts series, and together with Larry N. Martin, The Storm and Fury Adventures. Her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Realms of Imagination, Heroes, With Great Power, and (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) Space, Contact Light, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.