Monday, September 10, 2012

Library Dreams

I am currently seated at a desk in UNO library which overlooks Dodge Street, a pile of books about opium and 19th century Victorian shipping surrounding me, and my vaguely steampunk bracelet now off my wrist because I have forgotten it rubs painfully against my skin when I am typing. Today is a research and library day for me and I am inordinately happy for I can pretend I am a graduate student once again. This morning, I dropped my car off in the bowels of Crossroads Mall parking garage and joined a long line of students waiting for a shuttle bus to campus. UNO has an admirably effective shuttle bus system - every few minutes a fleet of shuttles arrive and whisk off several dozen students, so I was at the library in just ten minutes from parking my car to stepping onto campus pavement.

Then it was a quick jaunt across campus to the library as I basked in remembrance that college life by necessity offers a number of walking opportunities, perfect for someone like me who has a pathological loathing of sitting still. Inside UNO's library is a welter of useful books, and I trawled the shelves searching for necessary research material, including a book on opium production in the Victorian era and a bonus find entitled "The Age of Steam: Part One" which contained this lovely line about early steam-powered ships "Yet the descendants of these ridiculous little boats would, in time, inherit the dominion of the seas".

Alas, I did not find an excellent and lavishly illustrated book about opium I had discovered a few weeks ago, and I shall need to request the assistance of a librarian to locate it. If one were to browse my computer's search history over the past few months, one would encounter a variety of links to sites about opium, cocaine, drug trafficking, prostitution, and other less savory topics that I have been researching for both Book 1 and a fanfiction story set in the Elizabethan era. The other day, I popped into Google to research the status of the butler in Victorian England. Google autocompleted, "butlers in the buff". Out of morbid, yet hesitant curiosity, I clicked on the link to discover that this is a UK company that supplies buff, handsome young men in the buff (one would assume they wear white gloves and little else) to hen parties and ladies nights.

The link reminded me of a news story I read about a wild girls night party at a home where the attendees were so rowdy that the neighbors called the police. A police officer showed up at the house, unaware that the ladies had ordered a male stripper dressed as a police officer. When the real officer showed up at the house, the ladies pulled him into the house and began removing his clothing until the frantic officer explained the situation and, one would assume, called for backup. Bear in mind this happened in the Middle East a few years ago. I have been told by a friend of mine who was a former bouncer that he would much rather supervise a bunch of men watching female strippers than have to be a bouncer for a ladies night event with the Chippendale dancers: apparently women are far more crazy at these events than men. Someone else told me that she went to the opening night of "Magic Mike" and the women attendees were practically rioting in the aisles.

Sooo, all this is to point out that research leads one to all sorts of interesting topics. My challenge for today is to finish my allotted amount of pages to draft out (five) and plunge into these books stacked around my desk. The "Age of Steam" one is practically begging to be read, ruffling its pages temptingly. One question to be answered is whether the steam on the Horizon will be used primarily for keeping her airbags full or if her engines will be steam-powered as well. I am thinking that both will be the case: the section I am currently writing has Captain Roberts at the wheel and he has a steam divert valve that can feed more steam into the engines for extra power. But I am not sure about the technical feasibility of such an apparatus. My brother Seth and I were talking about Book 1 as we drove to campus this morning, and my plan for now is to draft out the basic plot. Many mechanical and technological features are being left to the wayside or merely glossed over until the first draft is done. Then comes the exquisite challenge of answering many of the technical questions people have been asking me, and it is surprising how many of these questions are ones that are already in my mind. The Horizon is constantly mutating and changing in my mind as I think about her: her envelope growing and shrinking, doors appearing and disappearing alongside her hull, decks switching like the stairs in Hogwarts.

All this means it is time to stop writing about the Horizon and get back to actually writing her. Take heed, my fellow readers. We who are about to write salute you!
Twitter @Melissa_Conroy

1 comment:

  1. It's not just a UK company - out of morbid curiosity after you posted about it on facebook yesterday, I googled it. There are several companies across the globe that offer similar "services". And unfortunately my google threw in a couple of thumbprint photos - butlers wearing bow ties, cuffs, and little black aprons. The things I never needed to know existed...