One of my favorite parts of writing is doing the research--and not just the kind which involves cracking open a book or Googling. I love research which is hands on, or when it’s like a treasure hunt where you have to contact one person, then another until you get the information you need.
For a novelette I had published in Orson Scott’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, I asked a glassblower if he could create a heart out of glass, then watched while he actually did it. http://www.zglassblowing.com/glassblowing.htm For a short story, I talked to the Vermont State Archeologist about how clay was harvested and stored by early 18th and 19th century potters, then did some river slogging to remind myself what climbing up a clay bank felt like.
Right now, I’m revising a manuscript—but that doesn’t mean I’m beyond the need for research.
In an attempt to simplify the story's details and make each one have more weight, I decided to replace a jackknife that the main character just happens to have in her suitcase with a straight razor which is important early in the story. The problem was, though I’m quite familiar with handling jackknives, I’m not familiar with straight razors.
Luckily, my husband had several antique straight razors for sale in the shop. And, double lucky, it turned out my husband knew how to hold one. However he wasn’t willing to play the part of the attacker while I attempted to pull out the razor, get a correct grip--then defend myself. “Razors are not toys,” he said. Sheesh. He's such a party pooper.
Check out this youtube and you’ll see why I needed to revise after I changed the jackknife into a straight razor. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI4ak1lJgY4
So what interesting research have you done lately—or are you just having fun relaxing this summer?