A Question of Curling
Q. How do I write about a place I can't even ask about?
A. What do you mean?
Q. I don't know anybody who's ever been to England, and I want to use it as a location.
A. Do you know absolutely nothing about England?
Q. I know they talk funny. And I've seen Mary Poppins. And some Monty Python's Flying Circus episodes.
A. Well, there you go, grasshopper. Extrapolate.
Q. They have a lot of silly people over there, don't they?
A. Goodness yes.
Q. What if I want to write about a place I actually don't know anything about? I wouldn't have anything to extrapolate from.
A. You engage in a time-honored literary tradition to fill in the holes.
A. Make stuff up.
Q. Right. What if my readers notice?
A. Assuming you're a representative sample of your target audience, and also assuming that your readers are illiterate Philistines, they won't. You'll find those are generally correct assumptions.
Q. I have a question about your last Q&A. I don't think you've ever seen a curling match.
A. That's a question?
Q. Yes. You've never seen a curling match, PERIOD.
A. Well, that much should have been obvious.
Q. Curling is played with brooms, you know.
A. Brooms, shmooms. I couldn't very well have the denizens of Vancouver roaming Robson and Davie with only brooms for defense, could I?
Q. I suppose that wouldn't have been very realistic.
A. Of course not. Besides, curling is much more believable with mallets. How could a game played with brooms ever catch on? Look at the games that get popular: they've got bats, rackets, clubs, mallets, swords, helmets, and even axes and maces.
Q. And they've all got balls.
A. Exactly. Curling doesn't have any balls.
Q. And no wickets.
A. Now you've gone too far.
Q. Actually, curling is quite fun. There's nothing better than a bunch of friends getting plastered beyond all rational belief and smacking each other around with brooms. Occasionally, we hit a stone instead.
A. Do you do choreographed dances to orchestral music written by the Sherman brothers?
Q. Oh, yes.
A. Chimney sweeps have nothing on you guys, do they?
Q. Not in Canadia.