I am researching for my next NaNo novel right now. It falls into the category of historical fiction. I don’t want to give away when and where it is supposed to play. However, I have discovered that material about this time in this place is not as bountiful as other times in this place. I might just not have looked long enough. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. I figured out that I can research place, time, and people separately.
I can get a feel for the time period from works of fiction and works of fact.
I can get a feel for the place from viewing it in other time periods. I have actually been to the place twice already.
And I can read up on the people who dominated this time, both those living in that place and abroad. The people who defined the culture, who moved the everyday discussions and defined the zeitgeist.
Add to that an at least rudimentary understanding of the political events at that time and a sensitivity for the soul of the people and I have all the building blocks I need.
I am using texts/books of fact and fiction in my research. I am also using pictures, videos, movies, TV series and art work. I think I have a pretty good feel for the time and place now. I also found the voice of my main character already. I can’t wait to get started.
Now let me turn it over to you. What kind of materials do you use to research your books? Do you rely on research before you start a book? How do you get a feel for places you want to incorporate into your book that you can never visit, because they only exist in the past or the future? Also, when do you know you’re done researching?