1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

What's the funniest research you've ever had to do for your fantasy novel?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Ruby, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,561
    313
    Maybe a more extreme type of xeroderma pigmentosum?
     
    Ruby likes this.
  2. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,726
    1,191
    163
    That's what I settled on. It seems very in-line with the vampire myth. Perhaps it's the origin of the sunlight element in vampirism.
     
  3. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    1,592
    1,019
    163
    Porphyria has also been linked to historical "vampirism", as it causes photosensitivity, madness, and all sorts of nasty skin/gum/hair related problems...

    Edit: Also, according to this article, "in principle, it is possible to relieve the symptoms of porphyria by drinking blood--another possible link with the vampire stories." ! I'm not sure how reliable a source that is, though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
    Ruby likes this.
  4. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    1,474
    434
    83
    There is no fatal-sunlight element in vampirism, historically. (At least not in the better-known root myths; again, there's just a lot of myths to choose from.) There are scenes in Dracula where the Count walks around in daylight, with no problem except his magic being weaker. I tend to think of vampires like this as having the same problem with daylight that jewel thieves have: they just don't want to be seen.

    Sunlight was grafted onto the vampire legend when the movie Nosferatu hit legal problems with the Dracula book and needed a new ending-- and suddenly "everyone knew" vampires burned in sunlight. It fit so well with a lot of other legends (many ghosts, for instance)... but these days more and more writers are looking for a slightly human vampire and trying to back away from that. Twilight was just the most reckless example.
     
    Ireth and Ruby like this.
  5. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    1,135
    299
    83
    Can vampires be in the sun without dying
    is a link to an article I've just found which states that, historically, vampires were not allergic to sunlight.
    Hi @wordwalker,
    Thanks for answering my question. I'm reading Anne Rice's, "Interview with A Vampire", and there are variations amongst the vampires described in her books.
    Next on my list are "Dracula", and the "Twilight" books.

    Again, this demonstrates that Fantasy writers need to do loads of research!
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014
  6. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,561
    313
    My Celtic-based vampires can and do go in the sun without dying; direct sunlight affects them differently depending on whether or not they've drunk human blood, and if so, how much. Vampires who haven't drunk human blood are unaffected; those who have are revealed as hideous winged demons, with their appearances being more or less human depending on how many times they've drunk human blood.

    Vampires in my new contemporary WIP are the "burst into flames" type, not as a lack of research, but to differentiate them from the humans and intensify the division between the living and the undead. It's discouraged for humans to be out of doors between sunset and sunrise, and likewise for vampires between sunrise and sunset. One of the main characters is a dhampir, half-vampire and half-human; as such he is an outcast who doesn't belong to the day or the night. He has many "classic" vampiric weaknesses, though to a lesser degree: garlic makes him nauseated, and sunlight affects him in the same way it would a human with xeroderma pigmentosum (see my link above). He has no trouble with religious symbols though, and the rule that "a vampire can't enter a private residence unless invited" doesn't apply. He just gets a strong feeling of "you don't belong here" rather than being physically barred from places.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  7. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    1,592
    1,019
    163
    Celtic-based vampires? What stories/folktales have you based them on? I'd love to read that!
     
    Ireth likes this.
  8. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,561
    313
    They're not based on any one folktale, more on a certain character and a general idea. In a nutshell, vampires were created by the Crone Goddess Morrighan after a certain nobleman drank his wife's blood, believing it would counteract the poison he'd recently drunk by accident. Since he thought to save his life by drinking blood (which ultimately killed his wife), the Crone curses him to survive eternally by drinking blood. As a vampire, he is harmed by iron (much like the Fae are, but to a lesser degree); and once he starts feeding from humans (which quickly starts driving him insane, mainly because his first victims are his best friend and his second wife), sunlight reveals his corrupted nature. The only way for a vampire to become human again is for him to sacrifice himself out of love for another, and for said sacrifice to be avenged by his loved ones.

    I do kind of acknowledge other vampire-like creatures in Celtic lore, like Baobhan Sidhe; the first vampire, while pondering what he's become and trying to put a name to it, thinks of the Baobhan Sidhe and says "well, I know I can't be one of them. They're Fae, and all of them are female. I'm neither." Female vampires, when they start to appear, are not called Baobhan Sidhe either; though there is some resemblance, they are still distinct beings.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  9. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    1,135
    299
    83
    Hey Ireth,

    I didn't realise you were writing a book about vampires. It sounds great!
    I must admit, mine is comedic - a cartoon about a love story involving a teenager, some vampires and an inept witch.
    I've kind of got into this genre by accident. Hence the need for research now.
    BTW, I didn't know that vampires can't enter a place of residence without an invitation. Can you remember the source for that?
     
  10. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    1,474
    434
    83
    I don't think there's a particular source for that. It's a common European saying about evil spirits, especially the Devil, and it's an obvious moral about not giving evil a foothold on your life. (Or not trusting a stranger, which peasants thought amounted to the same thing.)

    Research in myths is a tricky business. When you're researching facts like horsemanship or a specific period, any mistake can cost you. But for myths, sometimes you only need a general sense of what's out there and then you can make up your own; vampires are very much like that. (For instance, I think when in doubt it's better to say they do have problems with the sun: it's not the original version but it's what readers relate to. And that was even before you had to worry about "being soft on Twilight.")
     
    Ruby likes this.
  11. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,726
    1,191
    163
    I resent the ugly dent that Twilight has put in the vampire mythos. When I first created Will, the protagonist of my vampire story, I wanted him to be the opposite of almost every trait Meyer's vampires have. Gradually he's evolved his own personality and abilities, but I'm trying to stick to the central idea of "this is not Twilight".

    I really like the Celtic vampire myth too, Ireth. I don't base my vampires on the myth directly, but I do reference it in a few ways. One of my vampires is a two-thousand-year-old Irish chieftain, and he prays to the Crone Goddess, believing that "she has made me what I am, and if I pay her homage she may have mercy on me".

    I think it's interesting that almost every culture around the world has some sort of vampire myth. What could it mean? Are vampires perhaps based on a real creature that's now extinct? Could vampires be based on a disease, like porphyria, that occurs in every population? Or could the vampire myth be an ancient, ancient story that was carried with every culture as the human race spread around the world?

    Lots of stuff to think about.
     
    Ruby and Ireth like this.
  12. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    1,474
    434
    83
    Vampire legends are common, alright. But most cultures had some idea of blood being a source of power, and since we define vampires as "things that feed on blood, whatever else they do," it makes sense for most cultures to add some kind of vampiric twist to their blood mythology.
     
  13. evanator66

    evanator66 Minstrel

    58
    6
    8
    This wasn't for a fantasy novel, but the most unusual research I've had to do is looking up how many ampere-turns a ship mounted railgun would have. I have still not gotten an answer.
     
  14. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,726
    1,191
    163
    I researched something like that for a steampunk story. My question was "How many knots would an early 19th century two-masted schooner, under full sail but with the top half of its mainmast snapped off, travel at in a fair wind?". I thought the question was far too specific to ever get an answer, but lo and behold I got one.

    The moral of the story is: just keep looking.
     
  15. Shreddies

    Shreddies Troubadour

    185
    75
    28
    When I was looking up information about sugar, I found out that a Sugarist (someone who performs Sugaring) is someone who removes body hair, using a sugar and lemon paste. Who knew..

    It definitely pays to google words you think you've invented.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  16. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    1,135
    299
    83
    The funniest research I've had to do this week was to find out which is the correct spelling: lamppost or lamp post.The answer is that the former is the American spelling while the latter is correct in English.
    I knew I'd seen "lamppost" in a novel, but it looks wrong to me. Probably, the most famous lamp post in literature is the one in C S Lewis', The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Apparently, there were different spellings for English and American versions of the book, but even these varied for certain editions.

    Why am I writing about a lamp post? (You may wonder :D ). If you click on the link below and read Chapter 7 of my Wattpad story, you will find out!
     
  17. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,726
    1,191
    163
    Funniest research this week:

    Snakes with vestigial legs. I wanted a plausible skeletal structure for my lamia-esque race.

    Unsurprisingly, I didn't get many viable results. Most were just weird.
     
    Philster401 likes this.
  18. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I've been reading a lot about opium smoking in the 17th century, opium dens, and what exactly taking the drug in that manner does to a person. Extremely fascinating, if not...creepy? Its necessary research though. I didn't know people had to lie down in order to smoke it (good thing I looked it up!).
     
    Shreddies and Ruby like this.
  19. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    569
    264
    63
    For my WIP I finished researching different way to trick a person's sense of touch. I plan to test them on my wife to see how well they work.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  20. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    1,135
    299
    83
    The funniest research I've had to do this week, was to work out the year on a planet I've invented for a WIP I'm writing and posting on Wattpad.One of my central characters originated on the planet. He tells the other character that a year on his planet is nine months or two thirds of an Earth year. Luckily, while discussing this with a school kid, who's obviously cleverer than me, he pointed out that nine months is three quarters of an Earth year. We tried to work out what the current year would be on the planet. Does anyone have the answer? Although it may not matter, as time is a man made concept and we have BC and AD. Besides, the characters are time travellers. :confused:
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2015
    Tom likes this.
Loading...

Share This Page