Hiya, there! My name is Rachael Kosinski. I’m twenty years old, tower over most girls my age, and juggle writing with going to college. I am NOT Cindy Carroll, as you may guess as you read down this post, but I WILL continue her A to Z April Challenge with the letter “U.” I didn’t have time to do a challenge of my own, and am very grateful I got the chance to jump in on someone else’s. “U” is for unorthodox. Not the opposite of a usually Greek or Russian religion—no. I mean unusual, nonconformist, or something you probably just shouldn’t do.
Which brings me to the time I cased a local art exhibit while researching my latest story.
Writers, if you think about it, are the most unorthodox people out there. They make a point of making things up for a living and frequently hold conversations in their minds with people who don’t physically exist. Research, more specifically, can take them down very strange and twisted paths. Recently I’ve been drafting a story that involves art forgeries and a girl who can hear memories on paintings. Which means I needed to know about art crime, and the inner details of certain artworks: what they’re made of, how big they are, where they’re located and when they’ve traveled. In a single afternoon I crawled through the FBI’s article collections of forgery rings and Ponzi schemes and reached pages that were password protected. Searches on Interpol, Monet ID numbers, layouts of museums and searches on certain types of dueling guns more than likely put me on a government watch list. Then, of course, I actually cased a place.
I didn’t even mean to. My museum studies class (I’m an art history major) attended an exhibition opening for one of the professors. Thirty years’ worth of artwork hung on the walls in watercolor and egg tempura. There were abstract pieces and religious reworking, but he’d gone through a multicolor phase and there was this large painting that I adored so much I almost asked him if I could buy it. About maybe three by five feet, a nude woman stood with a forest as backdrop, only none of the colors were normal. Shades hung in blue, highlights in orange or red. It was gorgeous. While he gave a speech on how and when he made the works, my mind wandered. Really, the exhibit was in our arts building, which was open late into the night. Squinting at the ceiling, I saw no security cameras. The only problem would be figuring out the punch code to the room’s door, but I was an art history student and knew the curator; maybe I could lie my way into her giving me the code…? The plan didn’t take me any farther than lifting the painting from the wall and stashing it under my bed in my dorm room, but it had taken place in my head. I had really examined a situation and hypothetically laid groundwork for an art theft. And it was kind of thrilling. Hypothetically, of course! 🙂
Disclaimer: I promise I would never really steal anything; I’d feel way too guilty. But it raised lots of questions for me: what’s the craziest thing you’ve done for research? I always get into the mindset of my characters so I can try to see things the way they do; hence theoretically attempting to steal a professor’s painting. Are you all note-taking or do you try to do the things your characters do, just to be able to describe them more realistically? It could be anything; taking a jujitsu class because your protagonist is a master at it, peeking into the kitchen of a fancy restaurant because your villain daylights as a sous chef, or going spelunking because your pirate’s treasure lies in a cave and you want to write the subterranean atmosphere like a pro.
“Where do Christmas lights come from?”
Those tiny bulbs of color that burn on a Christmas tree,
Or outside a house to shine in the night.
Does anyone really know where they originate?
What if someone told you
They weren’t intended for Christmas at all,
But really for a miracle?
That they were for love, a desperate idea, to light a boy’s way home?
In that case, you must have some questions. What boy? What love?
Have a seat. Allow me to tell you a story.
Visit Rachel’s website: http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com
Interesting post! The craziest thing (so far) that I’ve done is attend Citizens’ Police Academy to get a better idea of how my officers would do their job.