I may have rambled on the topic of research for fantasy (why I do it) before on this blog, but I’m gonna do it again anyway. My favorite reason to research for fantasy is that I couldn’t possibly make up anything crazier than the things that have happened in the real world throughout its multitude of cultures and time periods.
I set out to do some research about the history of immunization yesterday, for example, and ran across this article on theriac, a “cure-all” used in ancient Greece. Scroll down to that insane list of ingredients!! I couldn’t make anything up weirder than that. Turpentine, viper venom, opium, and…carrots and black pepper? Wait a minute, the first three are weird enough, but then to combine them with something as normal as carrots and black pepper is just…over the top. And that’s only a fraction of the stuff that went into this substance – there were 64 ingredients.
It isn’t that I’ll necessarily use this particular tidbit of information. It’s that I run across so many odd little scraps and details, and all of it rattles around in my head (sort of like the 64 ingredients of theriac) and shifts and combines and ignites into something new, and that’s how I get a lot of my inspiration.