I have finally completed my research trip for book number three. If you’ve read the previous two, you might well think I spend half my time in foreign climes – and left to my own devices, I probably would. But this year I haven’t travelled abroad at all.
Due to Covid 19, book number three is UK based. Well, we do have a fair bit of history and some outstanding scenery to choose from. Despite the proximity, a trip was needed to scout locations and get some hands-on experience of the area, which is the real treasure for a writer.
It’s got me thinking about why it’s so important for authors to experience what they write about.
How can an author describe something they haven’t seen with their own eyes? How can they evoke feelings they haven’t felt themselves? No amount of online research is going to provide those unexpected emotions and vivid memories that actually going to a place gives you.
Authors need to know what it feels like to stand in the places where their characters will uncover secrets and unravel mysteries. Knowing what those characters will have at hand when they need to improvise a solution, what kinds of weather they will have to endure, how long it actually takes to get from location A to location B, what obstacles they might be faced with, and what unexpected gifts their day might bring, is essential for making those scenes believable.
Even when writing historical fiction, going to see what’s left from that time, visiting museums to find out how people lived, and experiencing recreations of events, is what brings history to life for the author. And it must be alive for the author before they can bring it to life for their readers.
Where would we be without all those authors with their weird and wonderful experiences that give us all the genres, settings and characters we love?
If you’re wondering what the title of this post has to do with book research trips, the next book is set on a little island just off the south coast of England. Well, I may not be jetting off anywhere exotic just yet but I am writing a travel mystery so the setting still has to be extraordinary!
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