Like most authors, I spend a good deal of time researching characters, history, culture, language, locations…the list is endless. On any given day, I may ponder how the human body reacts to garroting, which Russian sniper rifles would have been used in the early 1960’s, the flora and fauna of Peru, churches in Amsterdam destroyed during WW II, the best way to poison someone, the interior architecture of a 16th century merchant ship, how to remotely set off a Claymore mine, and the smallest caliber bullet available to use on a drone weapon system.
Back in the old days, all of this minutia would be written on index cards or spiral notebooks, carefully filed away in cabinets. Then we switched to floppy disks, followed by thumb drives (all supported by post-it notes) and now it all gets dumped into a mystical place called ‘The Cloud’.
I use Scrivener software for my writing which has many benefits, one being the ability to integrate research for a book into the project. I have notes, photos, web pages, sound samples, video clips all related to the project within easy reach.
If I was paranoid, I’d imagine a Homeland Security wonk scouring my search history, matching someone who researches old ships, explosives and Peruvian butterflies with a “to be watched” profile. In the old days they would have to break through my door to get to the filing cabinet. Now it’s a guy in a car with a laptop or a low level researcher in Virginia with a supercomputer. And of course, this person will be reading this blog.
NOTE: Low level Homeland Security or NSA researcher—I understand my search history, as well as the search histories of my fellow writers may seem bizarre, sick, scary, weird, and possibly threatening to national security. Please be assured our research is only used to empower evil antagonists in their never-ending efforts to get what they want, which falls somewhere between revenge for lost love to the complete destruction of the galaxy. But no worries! It’s only fiction…or is it?