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Monday, December 05, 2011

Riffling through my bookmarks

Over the years I've been on-line, I've collected an awful lot of bookmarks on my Safari browser. The thing about web sites is that you can never tell whether they will still be there when you come back, but they form a history of my on-line research. There are a large number of crime-based web sites from when I was looking up stuff for Crime Time: Australians behaving badly. There are some on spy-related themes from when I was writing Your Cat Could Be A Spy. The CIA web site was especially terrific for that, with all sorts of stuff about spy gadgets, which they have in a museum - much more entertaining than the Australian version, which was just a dull public service thing back then. There are the teaching-based ones which I looked up whenever I was desperate because they'd just given me a class in an area in which I had very little experience, or none.

And then there are my favourites, the ones that helped me research my fantasy fiction.  Monstrous is an encyclopaedia of monsters and such creatures of the night as fairies (or even Faeries!) and where they came from. Gosh, I wish I'd had this one when I was researching my first book, Monsters And Creatures Of The Night! I did go on-line for that - once a week, for an hour, at an Internet cafe on Glenferrie Road, Malvern,back in the early days of Internet cafes, when you could actually buy food there. But mostly, I was researching in the State Library of Victoria, using books. Twice a week.

Omniglot is an encyclopaedia of languages, where I went to look up Breton, in case I needed some words. And speaking of languages, there is the one I have only discovered recently, the translator in Dictionary which lets you translate from one language into another. For example, "On Saturday I'm going to the football" translates into Irish as Ar an Satharn, tá mé ag dul go dtí an peile. The only disadvantage is that if the language doesn't have Roman letters, you'd better know how to read Arabic or Hebrew or whatever! But it comes in handy if you need a character to say something - briefly! - in another language. It's a great web site anyway, with a pile of other sections. There's the Reference section, which has stuff like the word of the day (frondescence is today's, meaning  "leafage/foliage" - what a cool word!) and a hot word (did you know in Old English the word "gift" referred to a dowry?) or you can look up something as you would in an encyclopaedia.

I stumbled on to Mysterious Britain and Ireland when I was trying to remember where I'd come across the story told by Armand, the hero's friend, in Chapter 3 of Wolfborn. For some reason I'd vaguely recalled it being French, but it was Irish and, in fact, comes from the Travels of Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis), who lived in the time of King John. The web site has a link to another one which tells the story. The stories on this web site are short, but useful, and range from water horses to werewolves.

An amazing web site I heard about from Juliet Marillier at her Swancon workshop on fairy tales is "Sur La Lune fairy tales" which gives a huge variety of fairy tales from all over the world, including variations on the same story from different countries. It has its own blog, which, right now, has a video of “The Lady of Shalott in art” with Loreena McKennitt’s song. It has a lot of annotated fairy tales, which have comments on the different themes in the story. I really love the variations. You think "Snow White" is just a Brothers Grimm story? There are versions from Italy, Turkey, Romania, even West Africa! I checked this out when I was doing my story "Brothers" for the Specusphere anthology on myths and legends. Mine, in the end, was fairly straight European, but if you want to try something that starts somewhere else, this is a fabulous web site.

If you're planning to write a Celtic fantasy or just want to have a browse among all the things available, why not  check out these web sites?

Personally, I just love the browse. You know how it is? You're looking for something and there's a link to something else, which is so fascinating you have to read it and that has yet another link and before you know it, you've gone a long way from where you started and you've learned a lot more than you expected.

Ah, I love the Internet!


Lan said...

I'm guilty of a monstrous bookmarks list as well. There are so many sites on mine for how to choose the best character names that it's almost embarrassing.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Ah, but isn't it fun? :-)

As for names, there are always baby name books, or you could do what Rebecca Lim did when her publishers didn't like the name of a minor character in her current book - appeal to your Goodreads/blog friends. ;-)