Archives for research

Ignoring Gravity: my eclectic research list

Being a journalist, and a Virgo, I am good at making lists. My research list for Ignoring Gravity was long and eclectic. From adoption to early menopause, roses to dinosaurs. I read voraciously, made notes, clipped articles out of magazines and newspapers, took photographs; I filled boxes and files with notes.  As soon as I decided to write about two pairs of sisters I realised part of my story would be set in a different period of time: the 1960s. I was a child in the Sixties, but I would be writing about two young women, two sisters, living in London. I was 10 in 1970, and I grew up on a farm in Yorkshire. Patently, I couldn’t write ‘what I knew’. So I researched the Sixties. What clothes did they wear? What music did they listen to? The Beatles [above]? The Rolling Stones [below?] How did they earn their living? What was happening in the world around them? What was daily life like, at home, at work? The political scene in the Sixties: CND, drugs. What did they read and watch: newspapers, books, magazines, television programmes. And then there was the non-Sixties stuff:- The Metropolitan Police. The streets of
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity', On Researching and On Writing.

I agree with… Lucy Prebble

Lucy Prebble “What ideas grab you? Meaty controversial issues based on real events. Topics that frighten and thrill you. Paedophilia, anorexia, corporate brinkmanship … Because you’re a perfectionist, research is a compulsion. You read widely on your current topic and immerse yourself in its world. For Secret Diary… this meant hours with courtesans, dominatrices, punters; for Enron, visits to the stock market bear pit.” [excerpt from an interview in MsLexia magazine, Dec/Jan/Feb 2013/2014 issue]  Lucy Prebble is an award-winning playwright who wrote her first play while at university in Sheffield. Her most-celebrated play Enron is about the collapse of the American energy group of the same name. She also wrote the TV series Secret Diary of a Call-Girl, based on Belle du Jour’s blog, which starred Billie Piper. And she likes research. I like research too, and to understand Rose Haldane in Ignoring Gravity I needed to learn about adoption. I read so many books about adoption, written by birth parents, adoptive parents, adopted children, adult adoptees searching for their birth parents: I read information guides on websites about how to adopt a child; how to search for your birth parents; what to say when… if… you should meet. It’s
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Categories: My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity', On Researching and On Writing.

Reading for research: Man with a Blue Scarf

I am writing this in Spain where our internet connection has been intermittent for the last few days. We live in such a rural place that our telephone and internet are by satellite not land line and both are unpredictable. So, unable to blog, there should be no feasible distractions from the process of writing. The weather here is foul – cold and wet, yes in Andalucía! – so I hunker down in front of the fire with a book that’s been sitting on my bookshelf here for a while. I’m reading about art and artists, as on-going research for my current novel, Connectedness. Having read last summer The Yellow House by Martin Gayford, the story of Van Gogh’s stay at Arles in the South of France when he painted the Sunflowers series, I would read anything he writes. Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud is a diary kept by Gayford as he sat for a portrait in Freud’s studio from 2003-2005. The book made headlines when published in 2010 because Freud was initially dissatisfied with the portrait. He couldn’t get the blue of the scarf right. Gayford finally admitted there were two scarves he
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Categories: Book Love, On Researching and On Writing.