Writers are terribly curious beings. We have to be, because we have to accurately depict things we have absolutely no experience of. I’ll let other writers speak for themselves, but I have never stabbed anyone, never smelt a corpse and never been injured beyond a household burn or two. So how can I write about these things? Find someone who has!
Thank you Google!
Just in the last few months I have googled enough strange questions that I wouldn’t be surprised to receive a visit from the police! What could explain questions like: “How high does blood spurt when a head is decapitated?”, “What does burning flesh smell like?” and “Does a knife wound hurt more when the blade is going in or coming out?” [Answers: About 7 inches, scarily like a BBQ, and coming out.]
I’m sorry officier, but I’m a fantasy author. Perhaps that says something about the way my mind works, that spending hours reading about the various smells that come from different parts of the human body when it’s burnt doesn’t bother me, rather it intrigues me and I begin to think of interesting ways I can use this information. Of course there are lots of other sources one should use besides google and wikipedia, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find my local librarian seriously worried by my loan history as well. But does this make me a dangerous person? Or even a morbid person? Well, no. When I sit down at my computer I write the story that comes to me. I have characters and I put them on a page, and what happens from there is, to a large extent, out of my hands. In fantasy there are often high-stakes situations and a lot of moral grey area, which means terrible things tend to happen. I don’t set out to write them. I don’t revel in the gory details, but when the story demands they be written, I demand that they be written with the greatest degree of knowledge I can come by – short of stabbing myself in the gut and describing how it feels.
And yes, take from this that decapitation and stabbing occur in at least one of my books …