I’m a stickler for statistics. Like this one: Only 1 in 4 Americans read a whole book in the last year. What?? How about this one: 1 in 10 kids have been drunk by the age of twelve. You’re kidding me, right? And my favorite: Over 25% of women who reach the age of 100 have never been married. But...100% of men who reach age 100 are married or widowed. Fascinating! I don’t know what any of this means, but I’m very entertained by statistical minutia. What fun I am at cocktail parties…Woo! Go Evie...It's your birthday...(doing the Cabbage Patch as we speak).
Having a science background, I realized that I should probably use some of that ridiculously expensive education and weave some science into my novels. My YA work-in-progress is filled with scientific facts and stats. Not boring ones, but important ones, like, you are 28 times more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than a great white shark. And, silver-colored cars get into far more collisions than any other cars. Good thing I just painted mine hot pink! Because my main character weighs the risks and benefits of everything she does, she obsesses over facts like these to get through the day.
Like my character, I am obsessive by nature, so I spend most of my days researching like a mad woman. For my first novel, I researched Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, the history of superheroes, black bears, geology of faults, volcanoes and earthquakes, origins of Los Angeles' Bloods and Crips, PTSD, Buddhism, Crazy Horse, and the struggle of the Lakota Sioux. Random, but it all fit together in the end.
For this second book, I’m researching things as varied as neurodegenerative diseases, the science of memory, surfing, history and geography of Big Sur, Jack Kerouac’s Beat Generation, astrology, classic literature, assisted suicide, death sentences, and Alice In Wonderland symbolism. Tomorrow I’m headed out on a research trip to literally walk in the footsteps of my main character. Since the book begins with her undergoing testing for a rare and devastating disease, I am driving up to the UCSF Medical Center to begin the lengthy testing process and experience exactly what she would. Even though this is fiction, I want the feelings and details to be completely raw and authentic. Then in a few weeks, I’ll road trip up Highway 1, just as my character will when she sets out to unlock the mysteries of her past.
Unfortunately, this is a pretty serious book. Otherwise, I’d toss Matthew McConaughey into the story as a love interest and head to Malibu next week for some in-depth research!