Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fulgerites - and how research - leads to all kinds of weird places

Over and over during the years I've been writing, I've discovered how research can lead us into strange, weird and sometimes dark territories. Such is the case recently, when I happened to look up mica and its uses fr my steampunk novel, and then oddly enough, in that synchronistic way, up pops a video posted by Razvan Ciocanel, an artist whose covers graced one of my poetry books.
The post was a video by Markus Kayser, a graduate student from the Royal Academy of Art in Britain who did something quite amazing with a solar panel and sand - man made fulgerites to be exact.  Fulgerites are pieces of glass created when lightening hits sand in deserts such as The Sahara.  It heats up the silicone within instants creating glass tubes.
So now, thanks to this strange video I added a new location. Then I saw a piece of art by Captain Donald von Zimmer on Steampunk Empire .which blew me away showing airships and a very high dock, perhaps it is as high as London Bridge and upon it was a greenhouse!!!  A Glasshouse!!  How odd - the counterpoint between the metal airships and submersibles and the fragility of the greenhouse took me away so now there is a Mica Market suspended in the air to be included as an additional location. These two new locations are where pivotal scenes will take place. At first they were only going to be flashbacks and included in dialogue but they became so fully fleshed out thanks to a couple of chance finds during a research phase.
But now, as so often happens with research for me, these two tid-bits are now giving me ideas I have to further research so I've been page hopping like crazy and finding tons of wonderful wild scientific concepts to play with.
In between my house and the stone house where I take care of cats, I'm getting a lot of writing and sketching completed.  I've added over 5,000 words to my steampunk novel, Orchidelirium and have changed the plot a good bit so will have to go back and revamp chapters.
I'm also reading the Steampunk anthology by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer and there are a few stories in there which made me think - but none so far that have given me that "aha" moment.  I find some of them so action oriented that the characters are never really 3 dimensional or developed. I'm a little put out that two publications which accepted my stories have not honored their acceptance letter.  One of them in the steampunk world and the volume, I assume, will never be published.  Even the editor, who did everything right, doesn't know what happened.  The publisher just stopped communicating withe everyone.  I find this unfortunate because the story has now been out of circulation for over a year.  But these things are bound to happen to every author form time to time, so now I need to start it circulating again. been been published. 
I've also been trying to sketch out the characters a wee bit - just playing more or less seeing where I want to go and here are some of the ideas.  I'm thinking I might create some kind of a preview chapbook to have available at the Upstate Steampunk con during my stint at the author's table.  so I'm trying to come up with some kind of cover ideas.

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