‘Research’

This week’s editing journey has been a little disrupted.

I normally invest some time each weekday evening after my day job has finished, with the exception of Fridays, which is my evening off. On Saturdays, after my morning walk or cycle, I settle down for a few hours – this is my time to deal with the real nitty gritty things that have arisen during the week, and usually involves me hopping from chapter to chapter to iron things out. On Sundays you find me here, and also over on my Facebook page.

This week however, I found myself gritting my teeth through a couple of days of a constant, grinding headache that wouldn’t disappear. Since I can’t just halt my salaried job for a headache, no matter how bad, I had to put Anti-Virus to one side and give my eyes a breather. I’m glad that I did. Sometimes you need to rest, right?

Anyway, I was wondering what to write about this morning, and the answer revealed itself to me when I cranked open my laptop. All the tabs I had left open on my browser when verifying a few things yesterday proved to be very useful indeed.

To give you a flavour:

  • 1970s handheld tape recorder
  • Cassette recorder
  • Dead letter drop vs dead drop
  • Polaroid
  • Polaroid camera
  • Zippo lighter
  • Zippo lighter fuel
  • Cigarette lighter flame colour

In the midst of editing I am very disciplined indeed. I hop onto the internet, search, find the answer I am looking for and incorporate what I need into my manuscript. I leave the page open, but that’s it, I’m done. Back to editing.

The thing is… Having left those pages open my monkey mind continues to whirr away in the background, prodding and poking and generally creating new ‘things’ to occupy my mind with.

Here you go, this is what my brain did:

  • You can still get those handheld tape player/recorders on Ebay, why not have a look and see what they sell for? Although you can get a new one from Argos. But the new one doesn’t look so pretty and will probably last about 5 minutes (I don’t need a tape player/recorder. I don’t have any cassettes to play in it).
  • Remember how you used to like to play with the Zippo your friend had at university? It was so pleasing and weighty, and ohhh the click and clunk sound it made when it opened and closed… and they are windproof so could be useful (for what, I have absolutely no idea).
  • Those 1980s Polaroid cameras are ugly, but what about the Polaroid SX-70 Instant Camera that came out in 1972? That’s so sleek, has a lovely manual focus action and it folds up neatly. Just perfect! But ooh, properly refurbished ones are expensive. But then you know it will work, so it’s worth it (…).

Dear reader, it’s the last one that I’m stumbling on. You see… (cue shameless justification) the world of Anti-Virus is very much a world where censorship is a way of life and, due to a number of factors, people accept it. It is benign, it is for the common good, it is for society’s protection. However, what do you do if you find out that all is not as it seems, that something horrific is afoot? How do you go about recording all of the things that are hidden below the surface, behind walls, inside buildings, without being caught? Analogue technology is your friend.

I can hear you. ” But Freya, just because that’s your made up world doesn’t mean that you have to shell out on a camera, lovely though it may be! Get a grip!”

Yes, but… here’s the thing. One of my plans, alongside the actual novel, is to create artifacts that are part of, or linked to, the plot. There will be a book that is central to the story (very meta, a book within a book), there will be newspaper clippings, there will be tracking devices, there will be a gun (no, I’m not going to buy a real gun, I’m in the UK, but I will make a model of one), there will be a Zippo (OK, I might end up buying a Zippo, fair do’s), there will be Polaroid photos. See! There you are! And, as anyone who follows my Instagram account knows, photography is a ‘thing’ I use to keep the mood alive, create interest and so on, and I also really enjoy it. In my mind’s eye Callie (my main character) has one of those 1980s Polaroid cameras, but just because that’s the case doesn’t mean that I have to have one (I really, really don’t like them).

So, my novel will be surrounded by lots of other ‘stuff’. I want to create a tangible example of what’s inside my head. Who is it for? Mostly me. It’s an art project if you like. Creativity is what keeps me alive (oh OK, water and food also help) and my imagination going.

So, yeah. I’m still pondering about the Polaroid SX-70 Instant Camera…

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