I have often been asked where I get all my ideas from, how I manage to compile the research or even where I look? I guess like any writer, I have a basic plan or story in mind to begin with. Then I allow the environments and characters to blossom on their own to some degree.
I start with a character interested in something and to that degree I need to learn about the subject for myself, that way I can better help that character communicate about the subject when he needs to. It may seem odd, but my characters have their own personalities, it does not depend on whether I have a high personal interest in the subject myself… though of course I wouldn’t pick something that I find boring!
At that point I begin researching. I don’t go crazy, but I get enough data for that character to have a certain amount of knowledge or experience within the arena, that would affect his outlook on life.
First I go for the basics of a new subject I need to know about. Then, if needs be, I will dig deeper into it, usually looking at certain specified parts of that subject. I will look for what parts of this new subject will enhance the story telling and naturally discard that which would either slow or confuse the flow or feel of the story.
Sometimes, if I feel that a certain subject has been done to death, I will look for new ways of telling it, or maybe even put my own spin or twist upon it, so that it is kept fresh and entertaining for the reader.
But whatever I research, I do try hard to keep the knowledge of that subject tailor-made to the person that knows most about it. I believe this keeps the story and characters more believable.
I use both books and the internet to look for interesting elements about a subject. I read and listen to books and watch films and TV programmes that are fairly varied in genre and age group. This way I believe all these various and colourful stories become soaked-up in the back of my mind, ready to come out later and help to colour my own adventurous stories.
I am sure you can see within my stories that the research plays a strong and central theme throughout. I do hope you enjoy the fruits of my research labour!