How I research my books
Research is such an important part of the whole book writing process. But why do any research at all? I mean, if you’re writing fiction, why not just make everything up? That’s a totally legitimate question. But think about it. You want to make your readers believe your story as much as possible. You want to immerse them into your book no matter how fantastic it is. It is because of this that you want to mix a good dose of reality into your fiction. And with this reality comes research. In this post, I will tell you three ways I do my own research for my books.
Ah, the internet. What did we do before it came into our lives? The internet has made it so much easier to research virtually anything under the sun. The problem with the internet is knowing which websites are reliable and which ones are not. In today’s fake news proliferation, you need to be able to separate the dodgy ones from the real ones. Also, just because the internet is there doesn’t mean there are plenty of resources for your specific topic. For instance, when I did my research on Philippine mythology for The Girl Between Two Worlds, it wasn’t that easy to find a cohesive and long research on the origins of the creatures. It was good that I already knew the basic information of the creatures I used on the novel, otherwise it would have been a really hard process.
Real life experience
I was lucky that before I started writing fiction, I’ve already had a cache of amazing experiences because of my previous line of work as a broadcast journalist. I was able to visit remote places, experienced difficult, and sometimes hilarious, things and met so many different people. I used the places I’ve been to as inspiration for the settings in my book. There are also situations in my life that made it to the pages of my first novel (hint: one such experience had something to do with a cockroach inside a mosquito net). I’m writing my fourth novel already but not even half of my life experiences have made it to the pages. There’s more coming in future books because it is true what they say, art imitates life.
Again, my previous line of work came in handy with my storytelling. I have interviewed countless people and have seen different lifestyles – from politicians, to the super rich, to the people living under a bridge. It’s all a very rich tapestry of human differences. Although I fictionalise the characters, more than half of the characters in my book are based on real life people that I either know or have met. I take things like mannerisms, pet peeves, favourite foods and other such nuances and place them in my characters. And the villains? Well, unfortunately I have met my share of corrupt people as well. Sometimes I have to create my own backstory for my villains but sometimes I can provide it quite easily, too.
I know of another writer who goes through the experiences he writes about authentically. Meaning, if the character is tasting bitter coffee, it means the writer himself has had bitter coffee. It is really up to you how far you’d go to experience what your character is experiencing. Just make sure you don’t put yourself in dangerous situations.