Monday, January 26, 2015

Tricia McGill asks: “Don’t you just love the internet?”

There are many downsides to the internet. One being phishers and hackers. I have just received a suspicious email with an attachment stating it is from PayPal. I know they never send emails such as this and certainly not with an invoice attached. Knowing this was suspect I sent it on to them and they are grateful as they like to know of these emails and are in the process of checking if it is malicious.

But, having said this I do love the internet, and one of the main reasons being the ease of researching. This morning I have fixed a faulty cistern in my toilet. How, you ask, did I know how to do this task that most would think is strictly one for a male. When you live alone you have to become adaptable, and the www has helped me over the years in so many ways. I Googled the name of my cistern and the fact that it was leaking and how should I go about fixing it, and lo there was this informative video with step by step instructions. It might have taken me a while longer than a man to fix, but I’ve done it and am proud of this small achievement.

When I began writing long ago I wrote everything in longhand until my husband bought me a typewriter. I taught myself to touch type and in no time had dumped that for a small word processor. Then I graduated to a computer—ah, the joy. In those early days all the research for my books was done at the local library. I’ve always loved research so this was no ordeal and many happy hours were spent there poring over the valuable books on various subjects.

Any writer will tell you that research is essential, whether it be for the day a conflict started in a certain country to what a Viking woman would be wearing on an average day. My initial most intense research was for my Remnants of Dreams. This story starts in 1914 and goes through the two world wars and beyond. There were such things to learn as when the first newspaper was printed, what were the methods of birth control used in the early 1900s or even later into the 50s, what did basic food items cost. Then both wars had to be researched thoroughly. I knew little about WW1 and just a fraction more about WW11. Luckily my eldest sister was a teenager at the start of the Second World War so her input was invaluable. She could put me straight about gas masks, black-out curtains and air-raid shelters in London, not to mention ration books and the thriving black market.
This snip from my Time-Travel The Laird proves I had to learn, amongst many other things, all there was to know about the wildlife in Scotland in 1050.

“Why would any man wish to trap or harm a creature as magnificent as the eagle? An’ just where have they gone? Why cannae ye bring them back?” His brows met in a deep frown.
Liz sighed. “I’m afraid it’s impossible. Many families of animals have gone forever from this earth. Do you see many wolves roaming these parts?”
“Aye, we have our share of them, sure.” He looked puzzled.
“Well, the last one will be killed about 1800, and then if you ride these moors you would never see another. Man has made a real mess of things in the future, I’m sad to say.”
“An’ what man is this?” he wondered, snarling with anger.
“When I say man, I mean mankind in general. Not just one person.”
“Aye, I see. In what way have they made a mess, as ye put it?” He was obviously appalled. Liz hid a smile. It was apparent in his interest he’d forgotten he didn’t believe they were from the future.
“Well, he’s polluted the air the ground and the sea. He has blatantly slain many animals, simply for their hide, or their horns, or their innards. Usually for monetary gain. Sometimes simply for the pleasure of the hunt and the kill.”
“This I understand, there is no greater thrill than outrunning yer prey.” Travis grinned.
“Ah, but why do you hunt, Travis?”
“To eat, and feed my kinsmen and family, why else?” He shrugged at what was clearly, to him, a stupid question.
“There you are, you see. You hunt and kill simply to eat, but in the future animals are hunted for a stack of reasons. Food being the last and least of them.”

In researching for my Settlers series I learned so much that I didn’t know about early Australia, and have to admit this was probably my favorite research of all. To think that in a mere 220 plus years we have come—as has America—so far, is incredible.

So, why is the internet such a boon? Now, instead of trotting off to the library when I come up with a fact I need to verify all I have to do is google it and within seconds I have the answer. Perhaps I sometimes yearn for those long ago days when I spent hours in the beautiful surroundings of the library amongst a wealth of knowledge, but think how much time the internet saves us, and how easy it is to access the world’s fantastic array of advice and knowledge. Then there is the added benefit of a video to show us how to go about doing certain things, such as fixing a leaking cistern in the toilet.

All Tricia McGill’s books can be found here:
Read excerpts on her webpage: