Friday, November 03, 2006
BOM: The Research
The Awakening required research in a couple of new areas: first, New York City. Fortunately, I'd been there recently. Second, I had to research agoraphobia, which is usually defined as "fear of open spaces." But a person truly suffering from agoraphobia can experience panic in any unfamiliar place, and over time, his or her world grows smaller and smaller. I read books on the disorder, but it wasn't until I talked to Patsy Clairmont, who used to suffer from agoraphobia, that I got a real handle on the personality traits Aurora would need. I got more useable information in a ten-minute talk with Patsy than I did through reading a couple of books.
I also had a character who was an economist, so I had to do a bit of research on that. Fortunately, a New York Times article on the guy who originated "freakonomics" fit that bill and gave me just what I needed.
I had to research New York apartments. I found a lovely book with original floor plans from New York apartment buildings, and placed Aurora and friends in the exact plans of an old Manhattan building. That was fun.
I also had to think about the Christian content. Even though I intended The Awakening to be a parable--an earthly story with a heavenly meaning--I knew some readers would do well to get through the story, let alone dig for the deeper meaning. (Parables are like onions--and some folks only want to pull off the peel.) So I made one character, the next door neighbor, a Christian. It's a little overt Christian content, but not too much. The real spiritual meaning lies beneath the surface . . . by design.
Tomorrow: the writing