A little over a year ago, I was driving to work when I noticed smoke coming out of my car's hood. At this point, the logical thing to do would have been to pull over and call a tow truck. However, I'm not the most logical person in the world. There's a scene in Artificial Absolutes where the protagonist has to pilot a starship that's falling to pieces. I wasn't particularly happy with the scene, and the misfortune suddenly turned into an opportunity. How often do I get the chance to find out what it's really like to drive a vehicle that's breaking to pieces? What kinds of things could go wrong? What would go through a person's head?
Well, I found out all right. The smoking, the rattling, the wondering if I was going to catch fire and explode... Not sure how much of that actually helped the book, but at least I could say with confidence, if ever questioned about the scene, that I had some idea what I was talking about. Worth the risk? Probably not, but as I'm sure you know, authors do crazy things for their books. Here are some others:
"When I was writing Making Angels I did have my husband push me along the carpet with my hands crossed on my chest to see which was best head first or feet first for ease of introducing a body into an old altar grave (head first pushing on the feet won out)."
- Diane Dickson (http://dianemdickson.wordpress.com/)
"For Reflections, I did every crazy diet the character tried: cabbage soup, three day hot dog diet, master cleanse and an apple diet. I gained about 20 pounds, was tired, moody and basically miserable."
-Jennifer Bogart (http://jenniferbogart-author.blogspot.ca)
"When I still wrote 'sword & sorcery' fantasy, I learned how to use a sword. I tried one maneuver, which involved making an overhead sweep, then ducking. I overbalanced and nearly fell on my sword. Fortunately it was made of wood."
-Katrina Jack (https://www.facebook.com/katrina.jack1)
"I had my husband sew a BananaBoy costume in support of my children's book Sending You Sammy and I played basketball in it with a lot of kids in a public park!"
-Sarah Butland (http://sarahbutland.com/blog/)
"My whole family and I took tiny flashlights inside a non-commercial cave and explored so I could see what it would be like for my mystery series set in a town full of caves. I'm the shortest in the family, and I bumped my head on the ceiling of the cave in a really low section. It hurt like crazy. One of my characters does that on two occasions in the first book, now."
-Susan Finlay (http://susansbooks37.wordpress.com)