Thursday, 13 October 2016

Author post: Rowena Cory Daniells

Today I have an author post by Rowena Cory Daniells :) Oh and many reviews of her books can be found in my archive ;)

The Rabbit Hole of Research


Research is a slippery slope. Can you ever do too much research? And how much research is procrastination?

Back in the days before the internet opened the world to us, confirming a fact or discovering what an obscure piece of medieval armour actually looked like was very challenging. Now you can put a word into google and find anything. If, like me, you are fascinated by the world in all its complexity, it is very easy to disappear down the rabbit hole of research.



For instance in the King Rolen’s Kin series there are things called seeps, places where power seeps up from deep inside the earth. They attract beasts with affinity for power and they can ‘infect’ people, triggering Affinity in them.

To control these seeps, the abbeys use sorbt stones. One type of stone absorbs Affinity and by gathering many of these stones you can drain a seep. But then you have the problem of power (think radiation) seeping out of the stones and infecting those around it. So the abbeys also have a second type of sorbt stone which is called a sealer stone. When placed with the first stone it seals in the power (a bit like a battery) so that the two stones can be carried around and the power used when it is needed.

Sometimes you can even kill a power-worker with innate Affinity, by placing a large sorbt stone close to them while they sleep and their guard is down. It will absorb their power and if they don’t wake in time, they will end up in a coma leading to death.

I rather like the idea of these stones but I had to describe them so I needed to know what they looked like.

This is where the research starts. I find no matter how inventive I have been in my stories, the real world is even richer.

Since there are a lot of extinct and not so extinct volcanoes in the KRK world, I thought the stones should have a basis in real world geology so I researched volcanic stone and came across Pele’s Tears.


Named after the Hawaiian fire goddess of volcanoes, these stones made of volcanic glass also come in fine strands that are called Pele’s hair.



Beautiful and amazing. Honestly, you could not make this up.
Related to these are Apache tears, also formed from obsidian, they are pieces of volcanic glass.



Apache Tears have a touching creation story. According to the myth, Apache warriors facing certain death fighting the US cavalry, chose to ride their horses off a mountain rather than be killed. The stones were formed when the wives and families of the dead warriors wept for them.

Just by googling for information on volcanic stones I now have beautiful visuals and a story that inspires me.

So these were my inspiration for the sorbt stones. 
But there are also sorbt stones which are very rare and can be used to focus Affinity power. I chose jade because it is an interesting stone, coming in different colours and qualities. Naturally, if you have something so rare and valuable, people will try to create fakes. Since we are talking about storing power or using a variety of sorbt stone to control Affinity beasts, slipping in a fake could lead to death.
At one point the mage’s agent has to check what appears to be a sorbt stone, but turns out to be a soap stone. You can test jade by wrapping a hair around then set fire to the hair. If the hair burns it is not jade, as real jade absorbs heat. So this is the test the character uses to determine if unscrupulous traders have tried to replace rare sorbt stones with fakes.
It is little details like this that I find fascinating in real life and in books. So I like to include these details, adapted to fit the narrative in my own stories.


Rowena’s King Rolen’s Kin series is being re-released to launch the Solaris Classics line with lovely upgraded covers. The four books come out a month apart, and The King’s Bastard is already out. As a bonus, the e-book novella, The King’s Man, has been printed in the back of books two.





Twitter: @rcdaniells


Thank you Rowena for this post! I did not know that about those stones.


22 comments:

  1. Love the peek into an author's research and inspiration:)

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    1. Hi Melissa, it is far too easy to disappear down the rabbit hole. But I think everything you ever hear or see sinks in when you're a writer, then bubbles up later transformed. Cheers Rowena

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  2. Very interesting to see the real life inspiration behind her magic stones.

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    1. Hi Heidi, I've done a lot of research into magic/belief systems. It's a fascinating topic. Cheers Rowena

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  3. It can definitely be a rabbit hole. In fact, we can spend SO much time researching, we never get any writing done. But then, sometimes doing research gets us in the mood to start writing.

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  4. I have to appreciate how much research you actually did instead of just being like ehhhh let's just do this lol

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    1. Lily, they say the book is only the tip of the research iceberg. Cheers Rowena

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  5. Oh very interesting. Jade is such a pretty stone so very interesting to read that about testing it.

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    1. Yes Mary. How to test jade was fascinating. And I needed something low tech in keeping with the KRK world. Cheers Rowena

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  6. I'm sad because I actually won one of her novels from a giveaway one time, but never received it! I'd still love to check out her books one day, they sound quite marvelous.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mogsy, email me personally and I will make sure you get the book. Cheers Rowena
      rowena@corydaniells.com

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  7. Oh this was a cool guest post. And yes, I have slipped down the rabbit hole just researching things referenced in a book!

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    1. I figure research is never wasted, Kimball. Cheers Rowena

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  8. Very cool little look into the sorbt stones. That said, I can't think of a time where I've ever really procrastinated with research.

    My wife on the other hand... haha. She will go for hours just going from one thing to another to another. She's the kind of person that could be researching oranges and several hours later I look over and she's now on Hitler due to some series of weird bibliographic connections.

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    1. Lol. Sounds like something I would,do, Rob. Cheers Rowena

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  9. i always appreciate when an author goes out of their way to do research on subjects they write, it makes it that much more interesting

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    1. True, Lily. More interesting for the author, too. Cheers Rowena

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  10. Oh really interesting post there! thanks for sharing!

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