Bat Babies And Other Minutiae

The book I’m working on now has required a lot of research – far more than for any other book I’ve written. Most of this research was done as part of the planning stages of the book, but there have also been many smaller facts I’ve needed to find out as I’ve been writing. Among the questions I’ve had to ask Google over the past few months are:

– How did the Secret Service agent who uncovered the Great Phenol Plot of 1915 get hold of that incriminating briefcase?
– What do you call those small yellow spongy things made of corn that are used as packing materials for fragile objects?
– What’s the name of the girl in The Scooby Gang who isn’t Velma?
– How many churches in Europe use human skeletons as interior design features?
– Can you actually buy genuine ancient Egyptian faience amulets, and if so, how much would one cost?
– How do you spell the names of those two bumbling detectives in the Tintin books?
– Is the nursery rhyme Ring Around The Rosie really about bubonic plague?
– How many Catholic saints have names starting with the letter ‘v’?
– Why does grapefruit juice interact with some medications?
– When did Rembrandt paint The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp?

Quite often, I get a bit distracted. Especially when I encounter photographs like this:

Bat Babies
A crib full of 2-3 week old baby Grey-headed Flying-foxes in care of Wildcare Australia at The Bat Hospital. Creative Commons Licensed image by Wcawikinfo.

I needed to answer a minor question about the feeding habits of flying foxes and ended up reading, um, quite a lot about them. (This may explain why I’m still working on this book, two years after I started it.) But did you know that flying foxes (as these fruit bats are commonly known in Australia, because they look like little winged foxes) don’t have echolocation and instead rely on sight, which is why they have such large eyes! Were you aware that there are more than sixty species of flying foxes, including the big-eared flying fox, the masked flying fox and (my favourite) the spectacled flying fox! Did you realise that these cute furry creatures carry fatal rabies-like viruses including Australian bat lyssavirus, and that some species of megabats have tested positive for Ebola!

Anyway, this is why Memoranda has been a bit quiet lately. However, coming up next week, I do have an interview with historical novelist Anne Blankman and a review of her debut novel, Prisoner of Night and Fog.

In the meantime – look at those bat babies!

(Don’t pretend you didn’t go, “Awww!” when you saw that photo.)

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