When I was in high school I hated science.

My idea of Purgatory was to have to enter Mr. Acheron's class in biology. Of course, it didn't help that Mr. Acheron spoke English with a heavy French accent.  Even if he had been as precise with his English as the Queen, it wouldn't have helped. I was bored, confused, and lost.

I regularly got a case of hives before going to Chemistry class.  Chemistry was taught by an Egyptian with a German accent.  By now you will have gathered that I attended high school overseas.

College wasn't better in terms of loathing science, but I lucked out by avoiding the heavy sciences all together. Think something along the lines of Macrame 101.

The strangest thing is--more than a few of my heroes have been inventors, such as Michael with his mathematical engine in AFTER THE KISS, or the hero of HEAVEN FORBIDS who studied and measured the stars and anything else that took his fancy.

Most of the men about whom I write are intensely curious about their environment, their culture, and the newest inventions of the day--a fact that makes me question why I put myself in this position.  Why don't I just make the heroes military men?  Or landowners?  Do I really want to suffer through Physics for Dummies or How To Build Your Own Computer?  Do I really need to know these things?

So what do I do? I write another book in which the hero is a man of science.  In THE SCOTTISH COMPANION, the hero--Grant--is a devotee of Volta, following his early work in electricity.  Electricity? Good heavens, what do I know about electricity? You guessed it--nothing.

So, off to the science store I go.  You know those little stores that exist for the sole purpose of helping desperate parents help even more desperate kids put together a halfway decent science project?  I've been there before, for the Great Mold Debacle, followed by the I-want-to-build-a-volcano experiment.  (Note to all mothers--if you are contemplating a mold science project, label the little plastic dishes with the following words before setting them aside and waiting for the green hair to grow:  "This is NOT food!"  What happened in our house was not pretty--in so many ways.  The volcano was just a mess, but it didn't come close to hospitalizing anyone.)

Back at the science store, I bought all the stuff I needed, came home and put it together.  Right in the middle of actually doing one of Volta's early experiments, it occurred to me that I was having fun. Somewhere along the way, I'd forgotten to be bored, and frightened, and started becoming interested.  That's when another revelation struck me--I love the puzzle of human relationships.  I love figuring out how people interact, how they mesh, form alliances, separate, and come back together.  I love exploring the sheer puzzle of emotions, especially love.

My sudden and surprising enjoyment of science could simply be a continuation of my love of puzzles.  Granted, I still think people are much more interesting, and I don't think I'll ever be as fascinated with marsh gasses as Grant, but I guess my heroes will keep on being involved in experiments.  Just as long as none of them decide to take up an interest in nuclear reactors or bombs.

Have you ever been tempted to try something you've read about? (I tried making my own cosmetics once, but that's another story.  We won't go into the donut bread pudding fiasco.)

Karen Ranney