A Gem for Writers: Dan Koboldt and the Science of Fiction


As a writer, I never know what I’ll be researching next. In the course of writing my previous novel, I learned about adoption laws, the Vietnam War (and specifically the phenomenon of children fathered by American soldiers) and dogs, not to mention re-learning the geography of New York City. In the past few years, I’ve become fascinated by British history, especially the Restoration period. That had to have been my least favorite class as an English major! For my nonfiction work, I’ve had to research mobile technology trends, child development, and healthy digestion. Yet in putting a story together, you never know what will become interesting to you. Even if you’re not the most “science-y” person, you might find yourself drawn to learning about something related to your writing project that you otherwise might never have been interested in. I think that’s one of the aspects of writing I love the most (besides getting lost in another world)–getting curious and learning deeply about something new. And it’s always helpful when we can find some brief, well-written nuggets to explain a concept, either to help us move us along or to point us in the right direction for further research.

This post started with me wanting to share this post giving advice for using the woods as a setting. In exploring the blog where this appears, though, I found I’d uncovered a treasure.  Dan Koboldt is a research scientist who has also published fantasy and science fiction. He has a  “Science in Sci Fi/Fact in Fantasy” series– the latest post is about linguistics in the film Arrival; other posts cover planet habitability, rogue viruses, schizophrenia, and  closed ecosystems (he calls on other experts to help him out). There are also posts about rock climbing and, as I mentioned above, using the woods as a setting (Koboldt is also a bow hunter).  Looks like a great resource for anyone interested in the science behind the stories and will definitely be added to my list of links.






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