By Jamie Freveletti
An editor contacted the Rogue Women Writer crew and asked some interesting questions. One asked about the most surprising thing we ever learned while researching. Now, I’m a research junkie, and it seems that something that I learn surprises me every other day. Some examples: that there is no clinical research supporting routine, prophylactic removal of wisdom teeth. Yes, that ritual of young adulthood is not supported by research –as of yet. Also, leaving them in will not push your other teeth out of alignment. This last reason was why I had mine removed. After five years of braces I was taking no chances! But, now it appears as though it was a moot operation. I found out that all of my brothers still have theirs (none had braces). Ah well, live and learn.
Another myth involves the appendix. An inflamed appendix need not be removed in many cases. It can be treated with antibiotics. Who knew? Not me. I assumed that there was no treatment other than to yank it out.
And another myth that perhaps I alone believed involves Leprosy. I had no idea it still existed and could be contracted in present day until I started researching for my third book, THE NINTH DAY.
But, yes, it still exists and is entirely treatable with modern antibiotics. Also, the way one can be infected is a bit…unusual. To find out what I mean-if I say it here it’s a spoiler-read the book, but I was fascinated by this research when I found it.
And now I’m researching the Gold Rush era and the myths are exploding. I’m reading a lot of source material, journals and diaries written by those that rushed west- they called themselves Argonauts- and I’m seeing that this was a literate and interesting group of people. The diaries are fascinating, interesting, and in some cases quite funny and entertaining. Two of my favorite books are THEY SAW THE ELEPHANT: Women In The California Gold Rush, by Joann Levy and THE RUSH: America’s Quest for Fortune 1848-1853, by Edward Dolnick.
Both of these books give you a real sense of the trial and tribulations of those that picked up and headed west. The stories are compelling and the hardships they faced, both in their journeys there and then once they arrived, read like thrillers. I highly recommend both of these books if you’re interested in the era.
From Jennie Megquier, who took the trek through the Panamanian jungle (the Panama canal was not yet built) and speaks delightedly of the birds and wildlife-even the parasites clinging to her toes, to Israel Lord and Luzena Wilson, that took the overland routes and nearly died in the process, the stories are compelling.
If my upcoming manuscript can come close to doing justice to these diaries, I will be pleased! And I’ll try to dispel some myths along the way.
Got any myths that you can dispel? Do tell!