It’s one of the great things about writing a novel. Your imagination leads you into strange places. And those strange places, when one’s personal knowledge fails, leads to the need for research. Heide and I, throwing plot ideas back and forth, have probably set each other some of the strangest research challenges imaginable.
So, as our novel (and the need for research) comes to an end, here are just 28 of the things we’ve learned since starting this novel.
1. Hell, according to Milton, had an architect called Mulciber.
2. Aleister Crowley, the great occultist, was from the perfectly respectable market town of Leamington Spa in Warwickshire.
3. The novelist Barbara Cartland was a keen glider pilot.
4. ‘Gehenna’, a word for Hell in the Bible, refers to a real place in Israel. It’s quite nice.
5. Birmingham Symphony Hall is mounted on rubber cushions.
6. Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Napalm Death and two members of Led Zeppelin all come from Birmingham, UK.
7. Coca-Cola, Nestle, McDonalds, Pfizer, Lehman Brothers and Wal-Mart are all ‘evil’ corporations
8. David Suchet wears a fat suit to play Hercule Poirot.
9. In demonology, there is an inventor-demon, Belphegor.
10. The judicial post of “Coroner” dates back to 1194
11. Cliff Richard’s Devil Woman reached #9 in the UK charts, whereas The Devil Went Down To Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band only reached #14.
12. Joan of Arc’s trial records, even though they were probably amended to discredit her, show her to be a smart cookie.
13. King George V wanted ‘Jerusalem’ to become the British national anthem.
14. Lambrini is Britain’s most popular light perry and comes in eight different flavours.
15. Nearly half a million Findus Crispy Pancakes were destroyed in a factory fire in 2009.
16. Sex dolls can be remarkably life-like, and are available with interchangeable…features.
17. 1820 post mortems were carried out by Birmingham Coroners in 2003
18. St Francis of Assisi befriended a savage man-eating wolf and converted it to Christianity. The wolf swore an oath to not eat human flesh again.
19. The Satanic radio comedy, Old Harry’s Game, won the Gold Award at the Sony Radio Awards. The Satanic film comedy, Little Nicky, was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards but failed to win any.
20. The phaal is the hottest curry available and some curry houses will give you a certificate if you manage to eat one.
21. There are 100,000,000 angels in Heaven.
22. St Michael has a cult following and a (spookily well-aligned) string of monuments across Europe.
23. There are more “your mom” jokes than you might imagine.
24. There are twelve gates to Heaven.
25. There is genuine syndrome called ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder)
26. You can send emails to prisoners (in some prisons).
27. You cannot make up a cocktail name that is more outrageous than all of the real ones out there.
28. St Francis of Assisi, as he lay dying, thanked his donkey for years of service. His donkey cried.