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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Research for Allie's Return

For Oceania: The Underwater City, I spent weeks researching all the topics I thought I needed to know to realistically write the book. Fortunately, much of that same research carried over into Allie’s Return, which meant that I could spend less time researching and more time writing. Yet, I still had to research some new information for book 2.  Here I’ll be giving you a snippet of the research I conducted for Allie’s Return.

Human Genetic Resistance to Pathogens
When I realized that another plague would be the reason for Allie returning to Oceania, I had to think about what would happen if Allie returned to Oceania after being potentially exposed to a plague virus. Throughout history, populations of people who have been separated from other human beings have been shown to be more susceptible to the diseases the invading population brings with them. I knew that the Oceanian residents would not have the same resistances as Land Dwellers. However, I wanted to confirm that 148 years, roughly five to six generations, was long enough for the people to be genetically different enough to be more susceptible to the plague. I read a variety of articles, but few answered my question. Eventually, I had to use what I’d learned from the close-enough articles to determine that the population of Oceania would be less resistant to land pathogens because of their artificial atmosphere and isolation.
If you want to read some of the articles I read, you can click on the links below:

Viral Genetics
I also wanted to learn more about viral mutations and viral genetics, so I read an article to see how the plague virus could have survived and mutated almost two hundred years after the original strain. According to various schools of thought, viruses aren’t considered to be living. They follow rules outside living things, so I really wanted to research viral genetics. For that, I read a chapter in a medical microbiology textbook. It turned out to be very in-depth and not very useful for the novel. Still, it was interesting and informative. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here.

I finally found some more information about how pathogens work and are treated by the human body by a blogger with a Ph.D. in Pathobiology. Dr. Little runs a blog about pathogens that you can read at this link:

Deep-Sea Ecology
In Oceania, every high school-aged individual has to choose a focus for their future careers. For students interested in marine science, that means that a research project becomes part of their coursework. For Allie, I knew she would want something that had to do with the ocean. At the same time, I wanted it to be something unique that could create an interesting storyline for the novel. So, I chose for Allie to be interested in the physiology of deep-sea creatures. For me to write this, I had to learn more about the physiology and overall biology of deep-sea organisms.
One of the interesting things I learned about deep-sea fish is that only a few of them have swim bladders that cause them to “explode” or expand when they are brought to sea level. Instead, it is the high content of trimethyalamineoxide (TMAO) found in deep-sea fish that maintains the shape of biomolecules in the fish’s body (and gives fish that “fishy” smell). It keeps the pressure from building up by using piezolytes. The amount of TMAO causes the biomolecules inside the fish to be unable to function at the surface. Another adaptation that deep-sea fish possess are flexible proteins and unsaturated membranes. They have a lower protein content than fish in the photic zone. For example, a viperfish only has a protein need of 5-8% in their muscles.

If you want to read more about deep-sea biology and ecology, you can visit the links:

I conducted more research for the novel, but most of it was for sea creatures I wanted to feature, which you’ve already read about if you read the last two blog posts. If you haven’t, you can access part one and part two. Other topics I researched were for specific things that were only mentioned a once or twice in the novel. So, the majority of shareable research you’ve just read above. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com.

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