Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maybe I need a calendar

Sorry for the lateness of today's post. I just got back from the Tucson Festival of Books and collapsed in an exhausted, dried up husk instead of writing my blog post.

Today's topic? What's on my reference shelf? I have all the standard writing books on the writing shelf to the left of the dresser, the one that's covered with necklaces that I forgot to put away and dust dunnies and a valentine from my son with a bug on it. Titles include: Elements of Style (Strunk and White), The Hero's Journey (Christopher Vogler), Save the Cat (Blake Snyder, and yes I know it's formulaic, but some of the advice is still damn good), Romancing the A-list (Christopher Kean), The Joy of Writing Sex (Elizabeth Benedict, but it's still not joyful and I cannot write sex scenes at Starbucks because I'm that much of a prude).

Then I have all the titles that are specific to what I write: Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (William Shirer), Blood and Banquets (Bella Fromm), I Will Bear Witness (Victor Klemperer), Voluptuous Panic (Mel Gordon, and the pictures are so racy that I hide it under my archival box of newspapers), bound editions of Berlin Illlustrierte Zeitung from 1931 plus one from 1934, BZ anniversary edition to 1986, Lenya (Donald Spoto), What I Saw (Joseph Roth), Counterfeit Spy (Sefton Delmer, and yes it was expensive because it's out of print so I didn't let myself buy it until I sold my book), plus more.

My thesaurus fell apart, so I use thesaurus.com and dictionary.com (although they put a bunch of tracking cookies on your computer, and are, in fact the worst offender when it comes to building an online profile of you according to the Wall Street Journal). I also love Online Etymology Dictionary because they give great histories of words. They're by no means complete, but what they do have is fascinating! I also spend a lot of time at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and YouTube has an amazing collection of videos of Berlin in the 1930s is you poke around a bit.

For my upcoming novel, A GAME OF LIES, I spent a lot of time reading the 1,500 page official report of the 1936 Olympics. It's in two volumes. One is here. Volume Two is here.

Yes, I'm in touch with my inner research nerd.


Meredith Cole said...

Very cool! I can picture your pile of books (and dust bunnies). It also sounds eerily familiar. We have some overlap on writing books, but not on the Nazis. So far I haven't figured out a way to work them into 21st century Brooklyn...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Meredith, for reminding me about today's blog!

Some of those writing books are just plain classics. I'm a big fan of The Hero's Journey.

Let's hope that the Nazis stay out of 21st century Brooklyn!

Reece said...

Welcome back from Tucscon, Becky! I'm not familiar with The Hero's Journey, so I'm going to have check that one out.

Speaking of keeping the Nazis at bay, when I made my first visit to the Northwestern campus as an undegrad, I encountered a Nazi rally in downtown Chicago! It was a chilling scene.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Reese! It's great to be home!

Joshua Corin said...

Shirer's book is my single favorite resource on Nazism.

And Meredith, if you want to inject some Nazis into 21st century Brooklyn, I know a guy who knows a guy who might be able to help you out.

Shane Gericke said...

Huh. Who DOESN'T have a stack of Berlin Illlustrierte Zeitung laying around the office???