Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Research for novelists

"How do you do your research?" is the question I am most often asked at public readings.

"I don't!" is the first answer that comes to mind.

But the deeper truth is that I am not aware of doing research. This is because I accumulate so much strange information on account of my insatiable curiosity. Some might call it 'being nosey'. I prefer to look at it as a vocation.

Research is not usually a conscious process. It is a way of life.

How about this one: a safe door can get jammed closed in cold weather because a partial vacuum is formed inside. Or this: thieves sometimes try to steal slate gravestones from cemeteries because the slate itself is so valuable. Or this: Policemen trying to keep warm sometimes put their hands inside their stab vests.

I wouldn't have known where to look to find this kind of information. But it is all gold dust to a crime writer. And it is free. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open.

Perhaps this approach comes from my dyslexia. It is easier for me to see things than to read them. And perhaps it comes from laziness.


Sam Hayes said...

I know exactly what you mean, Rod. Little stashes of seemingly useless information that might one day give life to a scene. I have to write everything down though or I forget. xx

Rod Duncan said...

Hi Sam,

I write loads of things down but can't often read my own writing - even if I did bother to read it again, or could find it.

So it mostly just clutters up my brain.