One of the elements of writing my Kydd tales that I particularly enjoy is the research, and it’s one of the things I’m most questioned about when I give talks or do author signings. There are many aspects of this – consulting primary and secondary sources, speaking to experts, undertaking location research, visiting museums and archives. I’m often asked about the length of time research for a book takes – that’s a difficult thing to quantify because in some ways I guess I have been doing it subconsciously all my life, during my time at sea absorbing the universals all mariners take to their hearts and ingesting material from countless maritime books, both fiction and non-fiction, that I’ve been drawn to from an early age.
As well as the professional experts I mentioned in my last blog I owe a debt of gratitude to a number of my readers, who have generously contributed their time and local knowledge, and many of whom have become friends over the years. They are scattered across the globe, male and female, young and old. Although I’ve not met them all of course, through social media such as Twitter, Facebook and my BigJules blog I’ve developed a circle of informal contacts I feel I can call upon in my work. Here’s a random three who’ve proved that readers really do rock!
Sarah Callejo Living in Madrid, Sarah was most helpful with suggestions for Spanish names, phrases and eccentricities that I put to good use in Betrayal.
Robert Squarebriggs Visiting Canada on location research for Quarterdeck, I met up with reader Bob Squarebriggs in the aptly named Lord Nelson hotel in Halifax. Bob enthusiastically imparted his knowledge of the country’s boreal wilderness and remarkable maritime heritage.
Paulo Meireles A native of Portugal, Paulo enlightened me with details of his homeland’s culture that gave a truly authentic flavour to the storyline in Persephone.