I took a trip to the coast recently and spent some time by the North Sea. Why? Well, it’s pretty important to the novel I’m writing.
The light was gorgeous – grey and muted so that everything felt very still. We had to check the tide tables carefully so as not to get stranded anywhere on the way.
I love it when the setting of a book feels like it could almost be an additional character, and so a key part of research has been getting to know the location well enough to bring it to life.
As you can see from the pictures, this isn’t a bright and busy seaside; this is a windswept coastline that needs to be explored to be fully appreciated. Just out of shot in two of the photos is a large group of grey seals, lying about on a sandbank and calling to one another. There are oystercatchers and curlews in the shallows, fishing boats moored close to the shore, and ancient ruins perched high over them. And there are things you can’t research from simply looking at photos of a place, like the smell of the air when you get close to the sea.
I also picked up a brilliant local newsletter for one of the nearby villages, which was filled with wonderful things such as the results of the recent vegetable show and a cry for help from someone experiencing a jam jar emergency. It’s wonderful material for writing inspiration!
Fellow writers, do you find visiting your setting (or somewhere similar, if you’re writing fantasy) helpful? Should I make more of an effort to set my next book on a Caribbean island and go on an extended ‘research trip’?