Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Technical Topics -- The Uses of Research

I was looking at 1815: The End and a Beginning by John Fisher for another reason, and came across the following:

"In April, Sir Humphrey Davy, already famous for the discovery of new elements such as dedededum dedum, returned to England. Even then scientists regarded themselves as above politics and Davy, after being awarded a scholarship by Napoleon for his researches into explosives, had been touring the Continent with his assistant Michael Faraday on a laissez-passer from the Emperor himself ... " (from the work cited above, page 114.)

When I read it, I remembered I had read this before, long long time past.

That was part of the reason Grey pretends to be a German Professor of Physics when he's stopped by the gendarmes near the coast. ... Because Napoleon was in the habit of giving free passage to scientists to travel from place to place. The 1815 book is one of the refs to it.

Here's one of those examples of how background reading wanders into what we write. I couldn't have put my finger on all the thirty or fifty times I'd come across refs about Napoleon giving free passage to scientists. I didn't consciously think ... 'Grey will pretend to be a scientist because of yada yada from this particular book.'

But it was inside me when I needed it.


  1. I am adding your link to my blog.
    Best book in Very Long Time. Hurray!
    If you have time to go to The Forum, you will see a picture of what Annique does in Wisconsin.

  2. Hi Lynne --

    Oh, waaay cool picture. I had to laugh.

    And the poor fellow on the cover with his clthes half off ...

    Thanks for liking the book. I cannot tell you how much it means with another writer says she likes the book. There's no critic harder than another writer.

  3. Yes, the toughest critics are other writers. We look at POV, we look at language, we do not permit hopping from one head to another and we shriek if someone loads up on description, or tells rather than shows. The problem with your book is that it does nothing like that, and is full of non-stop surprises. You are as dangerous as your lovely spies. Shrug. These things happen. With a LOT of work. Enjoy the fun!