Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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A Finnish Spitz can bark 150 times a minute

Do you want one?

Pretty, aren’t they? But they are also called “the barking bird dog” and in Finland, their fanciers actually have barking contests for them. If you’re going to get a puppy — or even just put a dog in your book — then it would be nice to know something about dogs and about the breed, right? (I really like Ilona Andrews’ dogs; they clearly do know their breeds!)

If you want esoteric information about random topics, well, there’s an expert for everything, right? Here’s a post about that. I hadn’t actually heard of the Joys of Research list, but these days there are all kinds of resources for a writer who wants to know something weird and random.

My favorite bit from the post linked above (from Book View Cafe) is actually this from the comments:

“A thriller writer friend of mine once phoned a local chemical supply house. How much hydrochloric acid would it take to fill a bathtub? What concentration should she buy to dissolve a piece of meat that weighted, oh, 180 lbs? Could she carry the carboys in her truck? Would it be necessary to reglaze her tub? What about the sewage system? The clerk was perfectly informative and told her everything she wanted to know.”

Which made me laugh! Wouldn’t YOU sort of wonder about someone who called with these questions?

I actually have called my brother to ask things like:

How many men would be in a typical medieval army?

How long would it take to go 100 miles on horseback?

Which saint would be a good patron saint to protect you from werewolves?

I’m not obsessive enough to maintain a list of People Who Know Things, but I’m definitely interested in sources of expert information. Every now and then you come across a site like this , for example, and forever after make sure your swords weigh two pounds, not twenty. And that gives you one fewer thing that will annoy any of your readers who happen to know that swords weren’t actually super-heavy.

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