A new category, with an explanation attached.
In the Disney film The Little Mermaid*, Ariel discovers a fork under the sea. Upon asking the “highly knowledgeable” seagull about its purpose, she’s informed it is a shiny dinglehopper – used for styling hair.
In the much more popular online MMO World of Warcraft, a “shiny dinglehopper” is an item (pickpocketed from the mermaid-like naga) which has no useful purpose – except to those of us who spend part of our time gathering collections of items without any useful purpose. (Which I do. Sort of like real life.)
A few of you may already picked up on the connection. For the rest, here it is:
I am a collector of dinglehoppers.
A factual magpie. And now I have somewhere to put my collection, particularly the bits that can’t find a better home.
Historical fiction involves a lot of research. You can’t write convincing narratives without description, and you can’t write description without fact, so I read a lot of facts. Many of them make it into the novels, in part because I like seeing how many I can actually get in there. I won’t add one if it’s too much of a stretch, but if I can get a dinglehopper on the table and it doesn’t look out of place, you can bet there will be one. Look for it.
The problem is, some dinglehoppers just don’t fit, no matter how awesome the facts themselves may be. The characters just don’t see them, or don’t have the opportunity. A poor female character in fifth-century China might not have the chance to look at the translucent glass containers that recently made their way across the silk road from Soghdia, and the fact that I couldn’t weave it smoothly into the tale means the rest of you won’t see it either.
This blog has a place for dinglehoppers. Interesting, sometimes off-the-wall facts that come up during the research process, which may or may not find their way into a book, will definitely find their way here. Keep an eye out.
*Love it or hate it, it’s a cultural icon of sorts, with at least this one redeeming moment.