Lisa* the robot girl and I sat in the front office at the cabin. I pecked away at The Yak Guy Project for about thirty minutes. Part of my story involves a gradual movement from the guy’s familiar environment to one that is a bit more Asian. This requires a little more world building. I suppose it’s because the yak screams Asia to me.
“What kind of world building should I do to make it real for the readers?”
Lisa said, “I suppose clothing and style might help. Maybe some mannerisms.”
“I don’t know, clothing is always your thing. It kind of feels like low hanging fruit at this point. What about silk?”
A knock came at the door. Lisa spread her hands to indicate she wasn’t expecting anyone as she walked to the door. When she opened it, three beautiful women barged into the writing cabin and headed for me.
A blonde in a tailored skirt-suit spoke first. Her hair was in a tight bun. She lowered her glasses and looked over the top, revealing her perfectly arched brow. “I’m Libraria, these are my sisters Consultia and Wiki.”
Consultia had light black skin, a spiral perm so huge it sagged at the ends. She wore a shiny black top with a collar so wide it hung off one shoulder, and was dangerously close to falling completely off. She paired it with a black and white skirt and a pair of those low-topped, high-heeled boots. Her smile could serve as a beacon to lift anyone’s spirits.
Wiki had a denim skirt with black tights underneath. She paired that with tennis shoes, and an Abercrombie tee-shirt that showed off her athletic physique. She wore red hair, straight from the bottle. It had an A-line cut and layers that gave her a Sonic the Hedgehog look. She wore a cluster of string friendship bracelets on one wrist, and a necklace that amounted to a gold plated thumb drive.
Libraria opened a book bag and pulled out an old leather covered book. She slid it slowly across the desk with her perfect French-tips. As she slid it she leaned over farther and farther. I saw all the way to her navel between two perfectly tanned breasts. “This is the complete history of the Silk Road. It’s fascinating stuff, and will give your story a deep sense of reality.”
Wiki tapped away at her iPad-mini with her home-painted nails in alternating black and white. She turned the iPad toward me. “Look at this video. These cute little silkworms are munching away at fresh mulberry leaves.” She wrinkled her nose and smiled. Mesmerizing.
Consultia walked around the desk and sat beside me. She had some of the longest legs I’ve ever seen. From her position on the desk, and my position in the chair, we were close to having a Sharon Stone moment. “Did you know the Chinese kept the secret of silk away from the rest of the world for centuries? A person could be executed for smuggling out silkworm eggs.” She grabbed my hand and placed it on her top. “Feel this, it’s 100% pure silk. Nice huh?”
I managed something like, “Uh-huh,” right before Consultia sat in my lap.
Libraria said, “The cultivation of silk worms is called, sericulture. It’s been going on for thousands of years.”
Wiki said, “Here is a documentary about sericulture you should watch. And look at these beautiful Chinese dresses.”
Consultia reached for the iPad. “I love the cherry blossoms against the sky blue background. I think I could pull this off. Do they have one that’s a little shorter, or with a split for my leg?”
Wiki wrinkled her nose again and smiled. “You could totally pull that off. Let me check for other styles.”
Consultia ran her fingers through my hair. “Do you think I could pull that look off?”
She pulled my head to her chest and hugged me. “You’re so sweet.”
Libraria touched a nail to her collar bone and slowly slid it down over her breast. “The Silk Road began at the Pacific Coast and went over the Himalayas.” She kept moving downward. “It wound up in the fertile Mediterranean area.”
I think my jaw must have popped open somewhere around Nepal, because Consultia eased it shut.
Wiki said, “Look at these silk paintings about sericulture. Isn’t it cool that it’s a painting about silk, and it’s actually made on silk?”
Consultia pulled me tighter and looked up. “You know what? We should actually go to China.”
“Looking up tickets and accommodations,” Wiki said.
Libraria said, “Or we could take your little gyrocopter. I mean it goes into outer space and everything.”
“Great idea, but it’s only built for two.”
Libraria said, “We can double up. Wiki is tiny, and she could sit in your lap.”
Wiki clasped a hand to her heart, smiled and nodded. “Sounds like a blast.”
The sky grew dark and dimmed the light in the writing cabin. Thunder rolled across the meadow, and the door kicked in. Lorelei* stood in the doorway, and she was pissed.
“What are you doing here?” Libraria asked.
“Call it an intervention. Now you bitches get out.”
“That isn’t very nice,” I said. “These girls are helping me with my book.”
“Helping! Is that what you think? These are Sirens, Research Sirens, and their job is to enrapture you and distract you until you abandon your story. Then you’ll think of a better story, and a better one after that. You’ll never finish another story. Now I said move, and I meant it.”
The girls slowly backed away, stuffing things into book bags, purses, and in Consultia’s case her blouse. They walked in-step to the door. The view from this direction was just as fabulous as the other way. I put my elbows on the desk, and my face in my hands.
Lorelei slapped me across the cheek.
“Oh you liked it. They are distant cousins of mine, and have been wrecking authors for centuries. Fiction isn’t the same as other writing. Speculative fiction is even less connected to facts.”
“Yeah, but there still needs to be a basis in reality to ground the reader.”
“Absolutely, but after you’ve developed the world, you can plow through some of it. Imagine your story about Yak Guy growing up. He’s coming along nicely, and then your readers are shifted into ten thousand words about the history of silk. They’ll be disappointed. They’ll lose the story.”
“That sounds bad alright. So where’s the line?”
“It’s different for every story. In something like Panama, you needed to research the area, and get the names right. In Wild Concept and Arson, you can make some of it up. Some science fiction is less adventure and more theory based, in that case you have to do your research.”
“How do you suggest I proceed? They seem like great researchers.”
“They are the absolute best researchers. That’s part of their spell, but their goal is different than yours.” She put an arm around Lisa. “This is all the research you need. She can Wiki, Library, and Converse with the best of them. She can even feed a video to your monitor if she has to. She isn’t trying to derail your career, and keep you from success. Remember, a paragraph or two is usually enough in the stories you write.”
“But I learn so much cool stuff when I research.”
“Yes, it looked like you were having a good time. You can’t share everything you learn. Take some tidbits and bullshit your way through it. The Raven of Doubt will be there for you at the end.”
“How did you know to show up here?”
“Lisa called me. She told me what was going on and emailed me pictures of the Sirens. I came as soon as I could.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“I’ve been helping you write since the day you started. Your talent has improved over the years, and your success has grown too. You have to trust me on this one. Part of that success is your ability to finish what you start. Perfection is impossible, but damned good is a possibility. Those girls would ruin all of that, and have you thanking them for it.”
“Lisa, make a note to always be here when I’m researching. If something goes off the rails, you can intervene.”
“I’ve got your back, boss.”
* Lorelei is my Muse. Lisa is my robotic personal assistant.