My story is about hot air balloons and genies. This much I know. Beyond that . . . well . . . ?
Actually, let’s just stick with what we know, shall we? After my fun brainstorming session, and a lot of hours spent doing artwork featuring hot air balloons and genies, I can say with certainty that both are going to be featured in my story. I’m not too concerned about the genie part. Since the genie population has failed to come forward and correct me in, I claim the right to make up whatever I want about them. In fact, I may even have the audacity to defy Disney. Genies aren’t blue.
Genies are clearly not the problem. It’s the hot air balloon part that gets me. If I’m sticking with what I already know, then my book is going to be short. Try a sentence or two. Generally I would come up with a story first and do the research later, but in this case, I think that my freedom is going to be limited by my findings. I figure I ought to know a thing or two about hot air balloons before I send my characters on an around-the-world trip in one.
So, like a good kid, I visited the library. Apparently, hot air balloons have failed to make their mark in the literary world. I found one promising book entitled The Encyclopedia of Hot Air Balloons by Paul Garrison. It was published in 1978. The last time someone had checked it out was in 1994. It was perfect!
Using my encyclopedia as a launch point, I have since discovered all kinds of fascinating things about balloon travel. I also discovered a lot of myths. When I was a kid, I loved the animated film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Chipmunk Adventure. The story involves Alvin and company racing the chipettes around the world in hot air balloons. I always assumed that balloons had some sort of horizontal steering system. Not so! Balloons can be controlled vertically, but in order to move horizontally, the pilot has to drop or raise the balloon into an air current that is moving in the desired direction. The balloon is at the complete mercy of the wind. However, successful trips around the world in hot air balloons have been recorded. One trip took only 19 days.
I’m starting to amass a lot of information about balloons, piloting, and air travel, and I think I’ve got a fair amount of potential plot material. I’m also trying to collect detailed images so I can design a balloon for my characters. Did you know that there is such a thing as a solar-powered hot air balloon? Possible plot material? Absolutely!