Before I began writing fiction, my reference shelf looked pretty ordinary. I had the AP Stylebook, of course. A couple of dictionaries. Lots of online references bookmarked: the online massive OED (big benefit of working at a university); dictionary.com, thesaurus.com. The usual.
Now, as I type this, I glance to my right at my reference shelf. I still use a lot of online references, but I have collected some not-so-standard things.
For the ROYAL STREET/RIVER ROAD urban fantasy series, I’ve amassed a biography of Louis Armstrong; five (count ’em) biographies of pirate Jean Lafitte, two books on voodoo, a book on the ghosts of New Orleans, a volume on underworld crime in the French Quarter, and about two dozen books on Hurricane Katrina–although, in fairness, I had already collected those before ROYAL STREET was a gleam in my eye.
Then there are the general references on ghosts, vampires, werewolves, spellcasting, potions, herbs, crystals and gems, metals, alchemy, elves, fairies, and–two of my favorites–the Complete Guide to the Undead and The Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and other Subversive Spirits.
Now, isn’t that more interesting than the AP Stylebook? If you’re a writer, what’s on your reference shelves? Have a favorite reference?