I write a lot of fighting into my books. I don’t know if it is a result of being the only female in a house full of all males or if I just have a not-so-deeply buried thirst for blood, guts and a solid right hook.
Regardless, IAN QUICKSILVER is the last prince of Bankhir and with that comes some serious responsibility. After all, The Warriors of Bankhir are the fighters for the galaxy. You need a war won? The warriors will be there to help you fight it. It’s their job. However, when I very first started putting together what makes the Warriors of Bankhir so special, I realized pretty darn quick that I probably needed to know how to fight. If I was going to write about professional fighters, I must know how that works, why it works and so on.
I very naively signed up for a mixed martial arts class. What better place to learn hand to hand combat and weapons in a place that teaches a wide smattering of techniques? The first two months were a scream. Super easy. I didn’t know what the big deal was in movies and books when the main character thinks it’s so darn hard to learn. Then I learned a very important lesson: I broke my ankle.
There is great value in giving a warrior a weakness. It humanizes them, makes them more real and relatable. Weaknesses are juicy details and stumbling blocks. But most of all, as an author, I realized the power of pain.
Pain taught me that going up against a six foot one male twice my size has consequences. It also taught me that it is wise to listen to gut feelings and internal warnings. Mine was screaming off the hook that day and I very unwisely told it to go take a hike. I also learned the difference in pain levels between a sprain and a break and the number of weeks/months it takes to recover.
Pain also made me stupid.
Mostly because I got right back on the mats at the dojo the second the doc cleared me to get off the crutches. I also lost brain cells every day I kept training on an ankle that never healed in the first place. But I was learning so much! I didn’t want to quit.
So maybe stupidity turned into determination somewhere along the way.
I learned how to ignore the pain and keep training. There did come a point (a year after the fact) that I had had enough of the pain. That’s when an x-ray confirmed that, yes, I was in actuality just plain stupid and not determined after all. Thats when I learned something new about being a warrior.
Surgery is not just something you go into smiling and come out of like a charm.
It knocked me off my feet for another six weeks and by golly it hurt! But the research! HOLY MOLY!! Did you know that a bone fragment looks a whole lot like hard swiss cheese and the inside of your body is a lot like meat spaghetti sauce?!?! I had my surgeon take pictures and boy was I glad he pulled through for me! Healing skin has the consistency of a rubber balloon and stitches, deep into your skin, feels completely alien. I also learned that you should never put a ziplock bag of ice on an elevated limb and then go to sleep. That darn thing slipped off in the middle of the night and burst right into my crotch. Ice water in the private parts is not a pleasant wake up call. Trust me.
After surgery, I learned that I am very impatient.
I got out on the mats in a metal boot and kept going. I sucked it up and kept fighting. But I learned more than just pain from Martial Arts. Research is a multifaceted beast. I found friends just as crazy as I was. They hit harder when they’ve had a bad day. Their personal lives began showing in their gloves and through their kicks. They got a little harder, faster and stung a little longer than on other better days. There were no tears. No. These new friends got it all out through their punches.
I don’t mind being a punching bag for their bad day. This is why…
Something changes between two people when they have trained together. Blood, sweat and bruises have turned out to be an unbreakable compound for cementing relationships in a way I hadn’t experienced previously. I’ve heard about the “brotherhood” when men fight together, but it wasn’t until I experienced it (on a very small scale) that I realized how intense that bond is. Trust me when I say, there is a reason we keep coming back and it’s not because we love being a lab rat for choke holds and shoulder dislocating arm-bars.
My Warriors began to change on the page and it was because my research began to change me in real life.
I test for red belt soon. This means I am not far off from full black belt and I am counting down the months and days. Some days I wonder what on Earth I was thinking, putting my mind and body through such torture. The answer is simple:
There isn’t much I wouldn’t do in the name of research.
Now if I could just write a book about chocolate…
OTHER AWESOME THINGS I LEARNED FROM EXTENSIVE RESEARCH: A blunt weapon struck into the body at the right speed will STILL cut. Breaking pine boards hurt really bad if you do it wrong. There are some grappling positions that are so awkward, it’s good to have a partner who can laugh off putting their arms between your legs (among other things). Otherwise it just feels like you’re cheating on your significant other.