Monday, June 25, 2012

Poisons: For Writers

The other day at the library I had a minute before I started my shift, so I quickly buried myself in my favourite section. One shelf, the one to the left, is the writing section and the one to the right is all the decor/art/photography stuff. You can imagine why I like that section. By the way, if you're not familiar with the writing section at your local library (808.3-ish by Dewey system, fyi), then you should check it out ASAP.

Ok, back to the point of this post. I went down a rabbit hole. I found a book there called Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers by Serita Stevens, RN, BSN, MA, LNC and Anne Bannon. And yes, all those degrees after Stevens' name were on the book cover, so of course I had to check it out.

It's filled very useful ways to kill your characters off, and makes you feel a lot less stupid then typing "how to kill someone" into Google. Try explaining that piece of internet history. They aren't all necessarily deadly, but they do all have some sort of drugging effect. So I decided to post a few of my favourites (does that sound morbid?) paraphrased because each drug/poison has quite a bit of info with it:

A staple for Victorian Era novels, Opium:
Scientific Name: Papaver somniferum
Other names: Gum opium, poppy seed
Toxicity: 5/6
Form: -Gummy substance found in fruit and juices of opium poppy
-Can be smoked, drunk (syrup thick and sweet) or chewed
-Combined with other drugs could be laudanum

Effects/Symptoms: -Depresses central nervous system
-Euphoria -pinpoint pupils -slow/shallow breathing - low blood pressure -cardiovascular irregularities -unresponsiveness -deep coma -respiratory failure -death
Reaction time: Fatalities occur 2-4 hours after ingestion
Notes: -Used for pain killing and sleep-inducing effects
-Originated in China and other parts of Asia

Cobra Bite:
Toxicity: 6/6
Effects/Symptoms: -Pain within ten minutes -paralysis -weakness -stumbling -vomiting -impaired swallowing -convulsions -abdominal pain -fever -lung swelling up to ten days later -blood pressure falling -drooping eyes = toxicity in system -necrosis (premature death of cells) of tissue within 48 hrs. -Death caused by respiratory failure
Reaction time: -paralyzes nervous system within minutes -death within two hours
Antidotes: -antiserum only (must be given within 4 hrs. )
Notes: Of course all times approximate due to different heights, weights etc.

Scientific Name: Bacillus anthracis
Toxicity: 6/6
Form: -Aerosol (most effective) and spores through the skin
Effects/Symptoms: -2-6 day incumbation period -fever -muscular pain -abdominal/chest pain -cough -fatigue -flu-like symptoms -shortness of breath -50% have brain bleeding -90% mortality rate
Reaction Time: -Symptoms start within 24 hrs., take several days to become full blown
Antidotes and Treatments: -isolation -removing clothing (if aerosol) -showering right away - doesn't get through unbroken skin -antibiotics -spores can "hide" thus treatment for 60 days

Okay, well. That was morbid, but informative. Now here's something to leave you on a happy note.

EDIT: I meant to add this originally, but I was in a hurry to catch something on T.V. I wanted to do a little "What I'm reading, what I'm watching and what I'm listening" to at the end of every post because we do it at work and it's tons of fun!

What I'm Reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth
What I'm Watching: Waiting for a new episode of Rookie Blue!
What I'm Listening to: Jason Mraz's album Love is a Four Letter Word


  1. Authors must sound like such weird people. My sister and I sometimes walk around the block discussing writing and how to get rid of this character or that. I'm sure the neighbours think we're crazy. But then, sometimes I think I'm crazy. :)

    Had to laugh at that post.

    1. Haha, I'm sure we've gotten a few strange looks, and if anyone ever saw me Kote's IM conversations... Yeah, there'd be some er...questions.

      Thanks for the comment!:)

  2. Theres nothing more appealing than a character in mortal danger ;)


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