7.18.2006

Research 101

So last week I met my son, Chris, at Cal State San Bernardino, the university he attends. There we met with Tim Usher. Mr. Usher is a physics professor, specializing in Ferroelectrics and Piezoelectric research (I'm copying this from the CSUSB brochure because I have no idea what the terms mean).

Why were we meeting a physics professor, you ask?

Well, it wasn't to discuss Ferro-lala-bingbang. I was doing research for my next book. Really. You see, Mr. Usher also traffics in quantum theory, a subject that, from the little I grasp of it, is fascinating. It so happens that the more I doodled with ideas for another story, the more quantum concepts kept intruding. Namely, the notion of parallel universes and alternate realities. Yeah, contemporary speculative fiction partakes freely from the worm cans opened by quantum theory. Now that there's a semi-plausible platform to explain things like doppelgangers and lands of Oz, there's no shortage of stories about them.

Unsure how to dress for research, I donned my nerd glasses, Mokulua flip-flops and grabbed a notepad. The professor graciously entertained my juvenile questions and laughed at my stupid jokes. He even asked for a copy of the book when it becomes available (which'll be, like, in the next parallel world, doc). Among the tidbits of info I acquired, the most comforting was the reassurance that very bright people have very messy desks.

Walking back through those hallowed halls, pen in pocket, head swirling with ideas, I felt like a genuine writer (a temporary feeling usually punctuated by rejection letters). Oh well, whatever happens, I was able to finally use that phrase: I'm doing research for my next book.

6 comments:

Gina Holmes said...

Very cool Mike. Can't wait to read it. I thought for a sec you were saying that pic was your son. Which would really be cool having a son older than you. That doesn't happen as much as you think it would.

(sorry still only half awake.)

Janet Rubin said...

Good job, Mike. I needed you to inspire me. I've been avoided the research I need to do-- talk to a real cop and ask about how procedures of arson investigation and missing person searches work.It's so silly. There are at least 3 police officers that go to my church. Maybe I'm afraid of asking stupid questions. Or of admitting that I'm writing a novel. Or of standing there with my cheeks flaming red as I approach the guy and ask if I can ask some questions. Yeah, maybe I'll get some cool sunglasses for hte occasion. It's just one of those things I have to do. Thank God I'm married to a fireman to answer my fire-related questions. He doesn't scare me:)

Jeanne Damoff said...

I traveled to Seattle to research my first novel, and I discovered that pretty much anyone opens up and spills his guts if you preface your questions with, "I'm writing a novel, and . . ." My daughter was attending college there at the time, so the two of us took a lovely summer week and scoured all the places my characters would go. Major fun.

In the sequel one of the main characters travels to Chicago to take a semester course at the School of the Art Institute (minutes from where my son attends college at Wheaton). The director of adult studies there has already offered to answer all my questions and provide a personalized tour when I come up. More fun, this time with my son.

Hey. I can't help it if my kids chose to study in two of the coolest cities ever. :)

In other news, I look forward to reading your book on parallel doppelganging quantum realities. Have fun exploring Oz.

Ane Mulligan said...

And don't forget, Mike, that Randy Ingermanson is a quantum guy. Ask him anything. I can't guarantee the answers, but he does know the stuff. :o)

Michelle Pendergrass said...

Jeanne--Please do call when you come to Chicago!


Mike--Thank goodness you verified that bright people have messy desks!!

And by the way, love the Lion. I was the Wicked Witch of the West in the musical production of Wizard of Oz. Yes. I can cackle like her.

Jeanne Damoff said...

Thanks, Michelle! I'll let you know when I schedule the visit. :)