I recently found myself in a conversation about codes and Bletchley Park, and not only did I know what Bletchley Park was and why it was important in WWII, I was able to impart my very amateur knowledge about the critical role of Polish cryptographers in breaking the German codes. This exchange reminded me that as I’ve written each book in the series (seven so far), I’ve had the opportunity to research some really interesting and random topics online. All thanks to the internet, which is truly a glorious thing.
I thought just for fun I’d make a list of some of my favorites, the ones I found the most fascinating or surprising or enjoyable to learn about. All of this I’ve been able to use in one way or another, whether randomly plopped into the story, used as a major plot device or taken as inspiration for setting a scene or flushing out a character.
Cool and interesting stuff I’ve researched:
- Polish cryptographers and the German Enigma machine in WWII
- Interpol (the International Criminal Police Organization) and all its workings
- Human trafficking and enforcement coordination
- Blind Kobzar musicians
- Antique pocket watches
- Wedding venues near Oxford
- The history of Bray, Ireland
- The Argüello family in early California
- Street maps and satellite views of L.A., San Francisco, Catalina Island, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Paris, Washington, DC, Berlin, Manhattan, Lyon (thank you, Google Maps!)
- Train and ferry routes and timetables
- Finland, geography and history of
- Portuguese food
- Temazepan abuse and “jellie labs”
- Columbia University
- New York subway & Paris Metro
- Eton’s calendar of classes
- Spanish pirates
- Active anarchist groups in Europe
- Cruise ships
- Resistance movements in concentration camps
- Katherine the Great
Current research project: the California Gold Rush and 1850s San Francisco.
Man, I really, really love this part!