Thursday, 30 November 2017

Location research: finding what I wasn’t looking for – Lari Don

I recently went as far north as it's possible to go in Scotland without a boat, to Sutherland, because I hope to set my next novel there.


As I marvelled at the November beauty, and shivered in the November cold, I wondered: why do we bother to research our novels?


Why do we want to get the facts right, when we are writing fiction?


I searched for a fairy mound, a magic stone, and a wise woman’s cottage; but I found an outdoor art gallery, a healing loch and a new way to listen to water…



I found a snippet of ancient folklore which links to an book I’ve already finished writing. I witnessed a new piece of folklore being born.


And I filled a notebook with cramped frozen-finger scribbles, wrinkled rainspots and muddy splotches.


I went north with a list of queries I wanted to answer and facts I wanted to check. I didn’t come home with any of those answers or confirmations…


But I did come home with a much clearer idea of what my story might be about, and what my characters might want.


And with the realisation that, for me, the main value of research is not to find answers, but to prompt questions…


Lari Don is the award-winning author of more than 20 books for all ages, including fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales, a teen thriller and novellas for reluctant readers.
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Lari is on Instagram as LariDonWriter

3 comments:

Joan Lennon said...

Lovely - thanks for this, Lari!

Buttercup Publishing said...

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Clemency said...

I'm really pleased you came to Sutherland! We're based in Caithness which is just a sideways move along the North Coast, and some of the photos looked startlingly familiar. It's a beautiful part of the world and I really look forward to your next book.

(My class will be delighted too as we enjoy reading them together!)