Friday, April 17, 2009

Research for the Novelist

Thanks to several people who contacted me about the dangling trainers story. The trainers are, it seems, a well known sign to mark the territory of a drug dealer. Well known to all except this crime writer, it seems!

I'm sometimes asked how I do all the research for my novels. There is an implication that perhaps I have a network of contacts in the police force and in the criminal underworld. Or maybe that I read great quantities of academic research on inner city crime.

It is rather embarrassing to have to admit that I am not conscious of doing any research. Not in a formal sense. I'm just very, very curious. I see things, I ask questions and the information builds. Eventually it comes out in a story.

The thing is, I never know which question is going to lead to a gem, so I have to ask about everything.


Paul Lamb said...

Over here in the States, hanging sneakers (trainers) from wires or tree branches is merely a passtime for teenagers. It generally happens in smaller towns, and some of these places have become tourist attractions.

I might research some detail of my stories (as I wrote of that historical and probably mythical parallel for my protagonist), but I never need to research to find my plots or characters. I suppose, as you've suggested, I have researched simply through the accumulation of knowledge my many years on this earth has allowed.

Rod Duncan said...

Hi Paul,

Perhaps I characterise my lack of research unfairly. I do seek out specific bits of knowledge if I discover I need them as I am writing.

But on coming to a hole in my knowledge, I am more likely to take a slight detour around it.

Once again, it may be my dyslexia that influences me here. I lean towards listening as my preferred mode of information gathering - rather than reading.

Thanks for the comment.

siobsi said...

Oh Lordy - there are some of these trainers hanging right outside Rik's mum's house ... Too much information.

Rod Duncan said...

Having just been wacthing The Wire, I did get the feeling of danger associated with this! But the flip side is, in all my time living in Highfields - where there was (at that time) a load of steet prostitution and drug selling - I never felt in danger at any time of night or day. Contrast that with the street outside a city centre nightclub at turning out time - more dangerous than the streets of Baltimore, I'd say!

Thanks for the comment.