For Christmas, a beloved younger brother of mine was kind enough to give me (pause for dramatic effect) a $25 gift certificate for Barnes and Noble. The kid knows me well. And today... I spent it, at a real live brick'n'mortar Barnes and Noble Bookstore. It was awesome!
Here's what I got... and it's all for research. (I know. I'm so disciplined. There were a few fiction titles that I wanted... badly... but I can hold out a little longer.)
I had couple of really good reasons for this. Number 1: I am not a soldier. And I am writing about a soldier. I want to get it right. I've read so much fantasy where war is portrayed as something glorious and fun and exciting... and then, everyone who lives through it is okay afterwards. When was the last time you read about a fantasy war where somebody had realistic PTSD afterwards? Um... not very often. (Maybe Frodo from THE LORD OF THE RINGS... but he's the only one I can think of off the top of my head. Okay, actually, in the later installments of the ANIMORPHS series the characters were definitely showing signs of it. Yes, I read ANIMORPHS when I was a teen. But back to the topic...)
Why do we not have things like PTSD, or enemies who are people too? Because that would be a buzz kill. Writing this book and reading the books I've read lately has made me think... hard... about that sort of thing. We watch it and read it and hear about it... but when do we grieve for the ones it happens to? What about the 'unimportant' friends/comrades/allies of the hero, who die? And when do we feel sick and sad for the enemy... you know, the ones that our heroes kill almost without a thought?
So I bought this book, an eyewitness account written by a man who went through a war. He hated the things he saw and did, the way I think that most of us would. It will be tough. But I refuse to write a book about a war that is not an honest book, if I can help it. Not pro-war, not anti-war... just... honest.
I think this one's fairly obvious - since my fantasy is set in sort of an unusual era for a fantasy (I'm getting away from the quasi medieval stuff because I want a fresh scene to work with) I'm researching the types of technology they'll be using. Since I am not a gun expert at all, I got this fairly basic book about guns - tons of pictures, stats, and a little note about the feel of each individual gun. I'm going to have to design small arms for several different armies, nations, and factions. Hopefully this book will make it a little easier.
And... I have no idea if my soldier will need to know this. I really hope he doesn't, because I've begun to feel very attached to him - I love him, in a way, if you can love someone who isn't real. But I need him to know it in case he does need it, hence... I've got to learn it with him. Even though he's a medic and he hates fighting, he would still have learned the basics of hand-to-hand combat in his country's version of basic training.
All for $24.33 at Barnes and Noble. And they gave me the change - I was surprised; turns out that they'll give you the change on a gift card if the change is under a dollar. Cool, eh? By the way, this is not a plug for B&N, just thought it was nice that they gave me the change - because how the heck are you supposed to spend 66 cents at a book store? Right.