Research has therefore always been part of the writing process for me. Although I know the subjects I write about there are always new things to learn. So when researching for non-fiction I know what I need to know and research until I fill that knowledge gap. But when it comes to researching for my fiction I have discovered a weakness. I love researching. I mean, I really enjoy the process of learning new things, getting side tracked and discovering something completely unexpected. Take for example my latest early readers eBook Maras and The Fairy Rings (Amazon.co.uk - Amazon.com).
I've always been interested in the natural world and had often wondered what produces the dark circles in the grass on our local playing field.
Imagine my delight when I discovered a fungus creates them. You see I love to spot mushrooms in the local woods, they're overlooked by so many. Problem was my research didn't finished there. I continued to read and discovered amongst many other lovely facts:
- There are approximately 60 mushroom species that grow in a ring pattern
- There are two recognised types of fairy ring fungus - tethered (grows around a tree, in harmony with that tree) and free (not connected with another form of living organism e.g. a tree)
- They can survive for hundreds of years. The largest ever found (in France) is around 2,000 ft (600 m) across and is believed to be over 700 years old.
However I also started to read the many myths associated with this type of fungus including:
- They have many names including fairy rings, elf rings, sorcerer's rings (in France) and witches rings (in Germany). In the Netherlands the circles are believed to be created by the Devil, when he puts down his milk churn, (further research needed for that one I feel).
- Some folklore states that if you try to cross an elf ring you'll not make it to the other side but become caught forever, like a fly in amber.
- Other stories tell of how the mushrooms are used as tables by some fairies whilst other uses them as parasols and umbrellas.
As you can see I could have spent months delving deeper and deeper into this one subject. Thankfully the urge to write my book (Maras and The Fairy Rings) forced me to stop. However perhaps the one benefit of all this research is I have another idea forming and for this title (provisionally called Maras and The Elf Ring) I won't have to do any research.
Well... I might, just a little. I'm sure I have a small knowledge gap in all things elf.