I must admit to a certain amount of professional jealousy when I learn that another writer, published or not, has a degree in English, or Literature, or something that is directly related to the story crafting we both do. My degree is in Architecture.
When I was in grade school, I was constantly wavering between wanting to be an author (I never used the term “writer”, it was always “author”) or an architect. I loved words and writing, and I was good at it. But I was also good at drafting and geometry and I loved designing fantastic buildings! By High School, the practical side of me won out. Being an “author” was akin to being an actress… it sounds like fun, if you can actually make a living at it. Just don’t quit your day job. So, I went to Vermont Technical College and earned my degree in Architectural Engineering Technology.
Having taken several detours in life, I didn’t earn that degree till I was well into my thirties. And instead of being a CAD monkey, doing drawings for a real architect till I had a further degree and several other requirements, I used my degree to teach computers to the incoming Freshmen. I loved teaching, and I only left it when I gave birth to my second child.
So how am I using my degree now? Well, just as Sara Creasy adds a strong biological aspect to her novels, and Glenn Smith writes about a future military, my architectural love and training shows itself in my own novels. Sometimes it is as simple as drawing a house plan so I can keep track of whether I said a character threw a rock at a bedroom window from the front yard or back. Sometimes it is much more involved, and I describe a building that is not possible with today’s technology.
In The Scar (the second Kingdom Come novel), there is a need for temporary housing to be built quickly. The equivalent of the Army Corps of Engineers comes in, and uses machines that inflate huge resin bubbles that harden into a translucent, strong structure that can be easily altered and modified. The idea began out of my fascination with Monolithic Concrete Domes, but I made the futuristic process much simpler. For the biggest domes, a large machine pumps just the right balance of liquid resin and air onto a prepared foundation. High winds can cause problems, but otherwise the engineer simply gets the dome to the right size, then waits for it to harden. In The Scar, the architects and engineers added three levels of “subbles” (I love making up words! That’s why I write SyFy) These were all attached after the larger dome was hardened, and then openings were cut and interior walls and utilities and everything else necessary for habitation were constructed. But the initial structure was up in less than a day.
I love building models almost as much as I love designing fanciful structures. Sometimes, I get very detailed, and work exactly to a specific scale. But sometimes I just put together a simple representation to get the basic idea across.