Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Knowledge - especially for locations - is crucial for writers

The Knowledge comes down to hard slog!

London cabbies have it - that learned off by heart geography they call 'The Knowledge'.

But how does a writer get to know all about a place where their book's action takes place?  This is so much easier today with TV documentaries, photo services like Getty Images, even good old WikiPedia.  One of my favourite resources for out of the way places (ones I have never visited) is to read all the travel books (Lonely Planet, for one) and encyclopaedias (even the old ones) and do some hard slog research.  If I am still feeling insecure about the place, I will go so far as to contact a local and have a chat. My book 'Calandra's Spring' is, for the most part, set in places I have visited and stayed for an extended time - Paris, New Zealand, Australia - but Transnistria?  I have travelled in Eastern Europe, at least close enough so that I can make some assumptions, but I researched the places quite carefully, including cuisine, the state of their roads, the architecture and many other aspects in order to write about the place.  I had also seen a number of current affairs programmes over the years dealing with the nation's renegade quality.  One day it would be nice to have the kind of pre-sales that were handed out to Robert Ludlum and Jeffrey Archer, the money to travel to one's book location while writing it.  So many writers have the ability to sit in a hotel room and just observe the subject - but for now, I just gain the Knowledge the old fashioned way!

This is my 'K' topic for April 'A-Z'!

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