Notes From Crew Quarters: Stranger Things (But Not Those Things)
This week, Ethan Brightbill asked our editors to share the strangest thing they've ever researched for their writing.
Tianli Kilpatrick, Associate Nonfiction Editor
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome for a nonfiction essay about perception, monsters, and childhood.
Hayli Cox, Associate Nonfiction Editor
I'm not sure if they're strange or if they just made me feel strange, but the neurotransmitters released during sexual stimuli versus fear-inducing stimuli and patters of suicide/the Werther effect.
Courtney Mauck, Associate Nonfiction Editor
I spent a while researching animal grieving periods. Specifically, I focused on goat grief because I was writing a piece about the goat that jumped to its death in Alaska.
Jackson Keller, Associate Fiction Editor
Not super weird, but my novel made me go look up some stuff about haunted/abandoned amusement parks, which led me to a broader history lesson on amusement parks in general.
Brenna Womer, Associate Fiction Editor
The process of butchering a moose, for a short story I was working on. I ended up watching gruesome how-to videos in the coffee shop where I was writing (headphones in).
Jason Teal, Associate Fiction Editor
Jacqueline Boucher, Managing Editor
Most Recent: long-term effects of repeated Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and its intersection with dyslexia and musical recall. Strangest: objectum sexuality, the life cycle of wooden rollercoasters, and grief counseling.
Jennifer A. Howard, Editor-in-Chief
I spent a summer trying to wrap my head around fiber optics and ended up referencing the technology only in one sentence of a flash essay. No regrets though.
Alexander Clark, Associate Nonfiction Editor
Recently, it's been the lives of Catholic Saints, reasons they were canonized, and how they were martyred. It started with Joan of Arc, who heard angelic voices when she was young and then saw St. Michael, St. Margret, and St. Catherine. Out of the three, St. Margret's story is the most interesting. She got swallowed up by Satan-in-dragon-form and used her crucifix to tickle the back of his throat so he spit her out in once piece. Don't underestimate nuns. Catherine was strapped to a bludgeoning wheel that miraculously broke; unfortunately, the axe that chopped her head off worked just fine. It's so strange with Catholicism because there's a lot of appropriation of Roman and Germanic paganism that still lingers in the doctrine. The magical realism aspect of it is kind of cool though.
Krys Malcolm Belc, Associate Fiction Editor
I recently spent a while reading about surgical techniques used to repair damage to those shot in the abdomen. Specifically, the "open technique" wherein surgeons repair the damage in stages while leaving the wound open (temporarily covered with mesh, often) between surgeries. This actually decreases a lot of complications patients used to experience when recovering from gunshot wounds. I got along this path after a character in a story died of gunshot wounds. Reading about trauma and gun violence I learned that the vast majority - 80% or more - of gunshot victims survive, so I started reading about what life after might look like. I wish I knew more science.
Ashley Adams, Associate Nonfiction Editor
"Could you play a violin with webbed hands?"
Colton Lindsey, Associate Fiction Editor
I recently returned from a weekend at Granite Island Light Station. The emotionless diction which the Keepers tended to use for their log entries was quite strange to look into, but it's actually very interesting. To me there seems a story hidden in every entry.
Sara Ryan, Associate Poetry Editor
I always write about creepy weird things. Most recently, Japanese sword making, dead reindeer in Norway, Swedish witch trials, different cultural terms to describe rain when the sun is shining, the traditional Danish version of The Little Mermaid, pig slaughter during Midsummer celebrations, what is happening chemically when wood rots, a town in California that is full of graveyards, penguins dying in Antarctica, a dead woolly mammoth found underneath a Michigan farm, horses being butchered in Florida for their meat...I literally could keep going but I'm weirding myself out.