I’m running into more and more individuals taking steps to prepare for a catastrophic disaster or emergency. They’re reading up on survival techniques, primitive medicine, and basic weaponry.

Heck, historical fiction writers have been doing that for generations. We’ve become experts on everything from poisonous plants to making iron.

How? Research.

For example, just last night, I downloaded an image of an 18th century sampler. What was the subject matter stitched so painstakingly onto the linen? Roses framing a Biblical verse?

No. Sutures.

Yes, sutures, 18th century ones. There were (and are, apparently) different sutures for diverse wounds and body parts. I stared at that sampler for a good twenty minutes, and I’m proud to say that if you need a gut stab sewn shut with nothing more than a piece of bone and a length of leather cord, I’m your gal. You’ll die, but the sutures decorating your corpse will be symmetrical and ornate.

According to the reading material surrounding my laptop, I’ll be useful in other ways, too, should the End Times fall upon us. Let’s take inventory of the items on my desk as I write this:

  1. A how-to guide for constructing a yoke for a single ox;
  2. The Open-Hearth Cookbook, by Suzanne Goldenson & Doris Simpson;
  3. Trees of Pennsylvania;
  4. A print-out of early cabin construction in frontier Pennsylvania;
  5. A book about 18th century furniture; and
  6. The Book of the Bow, by Gordon Grimley.

According to that short list (which is only what’s on the desk this week), I should be able to identify the trees necessary for building a cabin and a bow. I’ll cook the game I shoot with the bow over an open hearth and devour it while sitting on a Windsor chair at a Queen Anne dining table. We’ll have vegetable side dishes, just as soon as I round up an ox, carve his perfectly fitted yoke, and get him plowing up the fields.

But Jules, you say, when the world goes bonkers, someone will simply steal all your stuff! No, says I, for my last novel involved exhaustive research on shields, weaponry, and military tactics.

So instead of spending thousands on a backyard shelter, instead of stockpiling cans of food and candles, take a writer to dinner. Get chummy. When the lights go out, you’ll be glad you know us.

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