Friday, June 1, 2012

Be Careful What You Research...

Here at the cabinet we're collecting a different kind of curiosity--odd information.  Having the freedom to hunt down random facts and call it research is one of the more fun things about being a writer.  That's how I first learned about the art of pumpkin catapulting, how a raven's track in the dust looks diferent from a crow's, and what spices are used in Mediterranian foods.  I've also spent hours finding just the right 1930s mansion and pouring over its rooms, and sketched for myself how a dragon could use a dual stomach and oxygen to breath fire.
Like I said, not exactly a bust job!  The problem comes when the research spills over into real life.  After obsessing over viquariums, frogs, toads and turtles this last month, I found myself irresistably drawn to build a pond in my front yard and invite my aquatic nieghbors to come swim.  I picked up a used pond liner today, and hope to break ground tomorrow.  A little odd, but not so bad a thing, right?  Well, I've also given myself a healthy fear of snakes this last month, and something bordering on phobia where one particular snake is concerned.

The coral snake.  Native to much of the south, and found in some parts of NC.  Did you know that when a coral snake bites, you may not initially react at all?  The wound can look fine, and you don't have any first.  Just when you're likely to conclude that you're safe, the venom really hits you.  Dizzyness, vomiting, confusion and tremors are all possible.  But what's likely to kill you is a loss of neurological control over crucial parts of your body like your lungs.  In other words, your body forgets how to breathe.  Even better, the coral snake seldom bites unless handled, so even though it's a pretty potent snake the antivenom is being carried by fewer and fewer hospitals.  Odds are good that if you make it to a hospital, you'll have to wait while they locate and maybe go fetch the antivenom.  While all of that sounds utterly delightful, the clencher for me was a small detail.  Coral snakes don't have retractable fangs, so they don't come at you with a big toothy smile to leave tiny vampire marks in your skin.  No, when a coral snake bites, it gets a good grip and starts chewing.  It's goal is to get a good jump start on digestion and make sure the venom is worked in nice and deep.

Beginning to see why I'm not so keen on these things?  Of course, the fact that I cast them in the role of the bad guy--or bad lady, in this case--and tied them to a twisted spell, a ritual, and a fifty year feud probably didn't help.  But I still say, be careful what you research--that knowledge might raise its scaly head and come back to bite you.


  1. LOL--I love this post. Chewing!? Eek.

  2. I liked the chewing part as well. At least it gives you a good long chance to identify the snake who's doing the biting :)

  3. Haha that's true! If it's hanging on like that, you might have time to recite 'Red on black, friend of Jack. Red on yellow, kill a fellow.' and then realize you're toast! lol

  4. Eww, I have to say I'm glad I don't live where these guys do.

    I love the sound of your research. Just researching "whatever" can lead to great story ideas.