Friday, April 8, 2011

The wonders of research (or: the boxer)

Right, everybody, sorry I've been remiss in my updating here. Every time my slot came up, there was something serious in the way. Like a complete edit of my upcoming novel. Two weeks ago, I got my eyes lasered and didn't really want to update the blog with "OMG I'M SCARED!"

But my eyes are pretty much healed now (no more shortsightedness from this author – and I'll spare you the details, but LASIK is a gift from the gods), and I have sent off all the revisions I have to do in the foreseeable future. I'm in the right frame of mind to talk.

So, let's talk. I'm currently working on a story about boxing. (Sorry, I'm always talking about books that I'm working on, so you can't really buy them yet… I haven't even quite decided where to send it…but I hope that when we talk next time in two weeks, it'll be done and I'll be editing it).

Now, my partner's been boxing for two years. I watched him fight (and lose) in a "white collar boxing charity" event, and I never really thought much about it all. He's also running half-marathons, and I'm not really getting into that, either. As far as I'm concerned, I welcome his boxing because that means he's out of the house three times a week and that means I can write without interruptions. Writers are selfish like that.

But I did begin to feed him articles on boxers, or the random trivia I came across. I did watch David Haye fight, and Calzaghe, because, yeah, it was on on the telly and it is strangely fascinating. Above all, I was starting to give him books on boxing as presents (my book buying habit and his interest caused that). I started to leaf through the books. Read some quotes. Started asking questions.

Gradually, I worked out I have a character who's a boxer. It took a long while to get Brooklyn to talk. Like many of my characters, Brooklyn's not really a talker. He's just there, more a presence than a voice. I knew he was disgraced, and I knew he lived in Rachel Haimowitz' "Belonging" world, which is basically our world, but slavery was never abolished. See, Brooklyn's a slave. And a boxer, and on the way to become the slave world heavyweight champion.

Thankfully, Rachel was so kind to allow me to play in her sandbox. I'll likely end up writing more there, because slavery is a fascinating topic, especially if we're looking at slaves who fight very very hard to be free again.

But even more, during the research for the boxer story, I learnt a fair amount about both boxers and the sport, read some fascinating accounts of fights, and realized it's really not just about overpaid guys hitting each other in front of the camera.

As my partner says, "just about anything is fascinating if seen in enough detail." That really sums it all up. You can look at the most mundane things, stuff you'd thought was boring, but if you really, really look at it and look at it long enough with an open mind, suddenly you get stories. Thousands of them. Little pieces will all swirl around and then suddenly settle, creating a completely new picture.

Sometimes, you get myths shattered. Of course I knew about Muhammad Ali, but I didn't know about what he did to Ernie Tyrell.

It's worth checking out, it's a fascinating story. Go. Have a look. Wikipedia is a good start.

Enjoy your find. We can talk about it when you come back. I'll be here.


VJ Summers said...

Oh! Lasik! One of the two best things I've ever done! Congrats! Just don't over do on the computer or reading for a couple weeks - the headaches suck!

I really enjoy your posts, Aleks. Thanks for educating me as well as entertaining me! :-)

Aleksandr Voinov said...

VJ - thank you. :) Eyes are still sometimes a little hazy, but I'm loving it very much.

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