Damn I’m doing a lot of research for a werewolf book. Civil War regiments and battles, underclass Manhattan after the war, wolves and their behavior, rent control in modern New York, landlord scams, the art of butchering meat, Abolitionist churches of Brooklyn… Well, it won’t be your usual werewolf book, that’s for sure.
I love research. I love the directions it takes the story. It can be so frustrating, when you’re going for realism – you have all these ideas that dead-end into the wall of history. Then, all of a sudden, the wall opens up, and it’s like the motherfuckin’ Yellow Brick Road.
This morning, I was battering myself trying to find a viable Civil War backstory for Albeus, aka Elvis Finley. This battle, or that battle, which would give him the opportunity for foolhardy bravery which would get him his brevet captaincy, in which year, under which commander, how long before he’d lose said captaincy, and why…
TIL that his brevet captaincy may be the most unlikely thing in the whole book. Yeah, werewolfin’ might be less believable. Finally I found an instance of an enlisted man’s elevation.
“The Civil War encouraged the granting of hundreds of brevet commissions to both Regular and volunteer army officers and to at least one enlisted man, Pvt. Frederick W. Stowe, who was brevetted a 2nd lieutenant.” So yeah, it happened at least once.
BUT. He wasn’t just any private, he was Harriet Beecher Stowe’s son, a man of “considerable social prestige.” So it would be unlikely that our man, from a working class Brooklyn family, would become a captain, right?
YES. Highly unlikely, and bound to be resented by the generally middle to upper class officers around him. (80% of Civil War generals were college graduates, for example.) Which is exactly why they’d conspire against him to have him knocked back down to sergeant. I could only think that he’d been given the promotion by U.S. Grant himself, a tanner’s son before he rose in the military.
Which in turn meant I needed to find a regiment, a time frame, and a battle or series of battles where I could compress his rise and fall. I was hyperlinking across battles, generals, theaters, and finally, I hit the jackpot.
Do you know who were a bunch of Civil War badasses? The 14th Brooklyn regiment, that’s who.
If ever there was a perfect place to put Sergeant/Captain Finley, full of instances of derring-do, that was it. After I found them, it all tumbled into place – the chronology, the battles, the dissolution of the regiment in 1864, everything I needed.
That’s when research is fun, when all of a sudden what you needed to make your narrative “real” suddenly reveals itself. Reading about wolves in Yellowstone gave me the idea for the relationship between the werewolves and ravens (one researcher even suggests that ravens, who both lead wolves to food and pick the carcasses, may be part of the pack).
Yeah, I have many fingers crossed for this book. At this pace, given an absence of crises and/or additional Kindlefuckery, the first draft should be done in about two weeks…
No action on the Sam Bradiobook, but that’s okay. I can’t overtax myself. The studio is all set up, everything’s good to go, but I’m busy now editing an old novel under my “real name,” preparing to come out of the closet so to speak. 125k words and it needs lots of chopping but, shit, right now? Even cut down below 100k? That’s a lot of pages in a pay-per-page environment.
Funny, I decided to revive that out of print book as an ebook, the *day before* Amazon started paying us by the page…Am I Psychic? CALL 1 800 ASK BRAD! $2.99 PER MINUTE! LEARN THE SECRETS OF YOUR FUTURE!