It's summer again, which means a couple things in my household. One, there are weekend steampunk events, particularly outdoor events and two, Renaissance season has begun, This weekend, Black Rock Medieval Festival opened in Augusta, MI, near Kalamazoo, and the Detroit steampunk crowd is descending, en masse, on the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village for their annual Ragtime Street Fair. I won't make it to Black Rock this week, but will definitely get there, sometime this month. Since I don't write Renaissance or medieval period fiction, I can't justify those as research expenses. The Henry Ford though--that's research with an extra helping of fun.
Now, our steampunk costumes aren't really authentic to any period, but we're still immersed in the time frame of the museum and its exhibits. You can really gain a feel for a period by listening to the music, eating the food, and studying things like home furnishings and transportation. So all the while I'm having a great time with friends, I'm soaking up the atmosphere like a sponge.
Traveling to other places has the same opportunities. You can be a tourist and just enjoy the local color, or you can get off the beaten path and spend some time looking at how people there really live. I'd love to visit Great Britain, but I had a similar experience during RT in New Orleans. Fascinating stuff. And by the time I left, a story was writing itself in my head.
What do you do in the summer for vacation or for research? Do you find yourself remarkably unable to separate the two? I think that's one of the occupational hazards for being an author. There's no such thing as pure time off. Our minds are always filing things away for the next book.
Hope everyone's having a great summer. Check me out on Facebook if you want to see all my costuming photos: I'm there as Cindy Spencer Pape. :)