Eruptions, Erections and Other Items of Book Research

Now that Mrs David Dando is complete and doggy-paddling its way to the top of the UK literary agency slush pool, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my book research – whilst at the same time, explaining my Google search history to the authorities.

I needed to get some professional advice in order to create a series of plausible mishaps for my heroine, given that finding a cow in the back garden, falling into rivers, almost breaking your bum on the treadmill and being invited to work as an elf had been done already. By me, as it happens. 😀

There are a string of people to thank in my acknowledgments should (ED – WHEN) Mrs DD goes to print and even though my novel is, for the most part, tongue-in-cheek comedy escapism, the majority are serious scientists and professors – all of whom were only too happy to help me cause (theoretical), cataclysmic chaos on a tiny Greek Island. Worth a particular mention is a local chemistry professor, who, after consulting with various colleagues in the field, answered my request to check a cacophony of everyday food items for ‘explosion potential’ with, ‘do you mean to take out a house, street, country or just the oven?’ It’s scary what my husband’s friends know…

I have had three UK and one US volcanology professors helping me concoct a woman-made volcanic eruption, while my good friend Paul Johnson gave me a small lesson in the Greek language and a true anecdote, that may have me asking any potential publisher if it’s okay to write in my acknowledgments: ‘Dear Paul, thank you for gifting me c*ck.’ (You really are going to have to read the book to get that one).

Furthermore, I’ve had a ‘head’s up’ on spontaneous erections, took a local painting class which cost me nought but a bottle of gin (only in Glasgow :-D) and had a chat about porn and bondage with a top English lawyer who, during his evening and weekends, likes it rougher than poor John Cleese’s last divorce bill. And NO, I have not written anything along the lines of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Praise be also to my husband and family, who have had to cope with me nodding to ‘can we have dinner now?’ questions, at seven o’clock at night, when I’ve been stooped over a notebook and have forgotten to even start cooking. And did I mention the day I left my laptop on the couch mid first draft? When I left my laptop on the couch and my son  broke into the chapter I was working on – set at the top of a volcano on a remote island in Greece – to add a little ‘interlude’ of his own:-


Tesco shooting on a mountain-top aside, I’ve been very fortunate. Only two people, in ten months of writing and research declined to help me. One was a top industry adviser who felt it would be ‘just professionally wrong’ to tell me how to get an accountant struck off and the boss of a multi-national company that makes Tens machines, who, after being initially keen to help, then took three weeks to answer my query with ‘why don’t you Google it?’ (Presumably after Googling me to find I am an unknown author, who may have to resort to assisting Santa in a toy store this Christmas wearing a green suit and pointy ears BECAUSE YOU WOULDN’T HELP ME ELECTROCUTE SOMEONE WITH YOUR PELVIC TONER THINGY). But I’m not bitter 😉

As well as the research thanks, there will be mentions for the wonderful, patient and kind Flo at Blueprint Editing and my manuscript beta readers Carol Bain, Laura Fenwick and Lorraine Dakers, who trudged through what I know was a scrappy first draft without once uttering the words ‘tripe’ and ‘are you kidding me?’ I am eternally grateful and have now deleted over twenty seven repetitions of the word ‘stunning.’

Incidentally, Lorraine Dakers is a tutor at the Universidad Europea de Madrid and kindly invited me to take a first shot at a radio interview last month. ‘Chip Butty’ is the station they have set up for students and all broadcasts are available as podcasts. If you have a spare few minutes now you’ve finished reading my waffle, pull up a chair, click HERE and listen to me do some more. I’m a nearly radio star. Honestly.

Internet search history explained – check. Thanks to everyone that helped me finish the novel – check. Tell them I was on the radio – check. What nationality was Dvořák? …..


6 thoughts on “Eruptions, Erections and Other Items of Book Research”

  1. Sashaying over here because Gabriela mentioned leaving the laptop on the sofa in her Twitter feed, and I had to check it out. 🙂

    Research is one of my favorite bits in writing. Talking to experienced folks, reading up, discovering little-known facts – my heart races a little every time I open up that browser window to do a quick search. In fact, I discovered many new joys and passions of my own, while doing research for stories.

    I’ll keep my eyes open for Mrs. David Dando on the bestseller lists! 🙂

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