When I started writing I suddenly found myself reading more than ever before. The reason was research. An idea, a vision of sorts was becoming words on paper. Alas imagination will only take you so far, unless you’re writing something so far out that there is no research data available. Good luck with that.
While writing the first fifty pages of ‘anoxic zone’ it occurred to me I didn’t have enough. Of imagination and inspiration there was plenty, yet without facts and details of different time periods there was no way to tie my vision to reality. This also helps the reader to make the leap of believability. While I wanted to have a firm foundation for the novel I did not want to rewrite history or give a history lesson, at least one you weren’t able to catch me giving. There’s the rub, trying to find a balance between fact and fiction and weaving them together seamlessly.
Mark Twain gave the best advice concerning this conundrum, and I paraphrase, “Don’t let too many facts ruin a good story.”
The funny thing is that the research does not end – it evolves. About the time you think you’ve got it, you will find yourself back with your reference material. As I’ve stretched my bounds with the second book ‘Halocline’, and the third, ‘Black Tide’, so has the research grown to accommodate new ideas, locations, action and drama.
Doing my ‘homework’ has taken on a new level as well. I still Google my brains out, but for my next works some of the study will be experiential. I have had the good luck to tour the U.S. on a motorcycle a few times with my friend Kale. This ride will take us from the west coast to the east coast on Route 6, the longest trans-con in the states. Two lanes will carry us through the heart of the heartland, where a good deal of my next book will take place. Route 6 goes right through my hometown where the incubus began.
A ride of this length, well over ten thousand miles, requires a good deal of research of its own for the trip to go smoothly. Riding sixteen hours a day means you’d better be suited properly for comfort and protection, not only from the road but also the elements. Being unprepared will make the journey miserable and miserable sucks. Kale is a lifetime rider and remembers the days when blue jeans and a leather jacket were de rigueur. For touring now he recommends an Aerostitch Roadcrafter one-piece suit. I was lucky enough on my first two tours for a friend to loan me one of his Roadcrafter’s for me to use. You quickly learn how function and comfort can come together in such a sweet package. But after two borrowings, and if you’re going to keep riding, you have to get one of your own. This year I worked with the good people at Aerostitch to get my sizing correct and purchased my first ‘Stitch’. This is one of the only motorcycle suits still made in the U.S.A. with a quality level that surpasses anything on the market.
From the blistering deserts of southern Utah to the frozen peaks of the Rockies the Roadcrafter was made to make the best of it. You can ride with next to nothing on or be fully fleeced and you will be covered in comfort, protection and a style that can’t be beat. It’s also the only road gear you can don in ten seconds, which in my books, will be a very handy feature as there are often times when it’s better to run than stay and fight. For those of you who have read my books, Jake gets the shit kicked out of him more times than I can remember. An Aerostitch could have saved him a few learning curves.
Since you write about what you know, motorcycling is working its way into more and more of my prose. My next book has a young woman riding the mountain roads of Romania on a BMW Adventure bike in search of an evil that entered her as a child. Now with a customized Roadcrafter that has an inside slip pocket for a twelve gauge riot shotgun that pulls out through one of the suit’s side vents she just might make it. Seems pretty cool to me.
Research is key to many good books. The better you study up, the more likely the words will come out better than expected. Readers can always tell when a writer is being lazy or full of it. I try very hard not to let that happen. It’s crucial because once they feel like they’ve been had the book gets put down. I do not want that to ever happen, to anybody.
Come July when Kale plans on riding cross-country, no doubt I will sit down, if I can, and do the day’s journal and write some till I fall asleep. This sounds a whole lot better than working out the kinks and chaffing of poor quality riding gear. You see, we ride sixteen to eighteen hours a day, everything must fit perfect. Thus the Roadcrafter made by Aerostitch in the U.S.A.
Kale and I will be sharing the trip on my blog and facebook so when the time gets closer I’ll be getting the word out. Pictures and everything!
There is no doubt in my mind that each day of the ride will be twenty–four hours of deep research that I hope to share with you in my upcoming novels. If you haven’t yet, check out my website at www.blackwaterbooks.com
See you out on the road!