Researching for the Novel.

When I was first struck by the idea for my latest novel ‘An Excess Of…’, I understood I’d need to do a good deal of research. Most topics touched on in the story were already familiar, but I felt I should deepen my knowledge in as many areas as possible. Underlying subjects explored in the story include the environment, religion, Covid, sexuality, leadership, nudity, survival, and many others. But these elements are entwined in the more exciting, engaging relationships and conflicts that drive the story through the created characters, as aspects of their attitudes, personalities, and actions.
During my long life, I’ve read at least 10,000 books, probably a lot more, encompassing fiction and nonfiction. I’d read everything in my local children’s library by the age of 11, so asked the matronly librarian if I might borrow books from the adult section, normally open only to those aged 14 and older. She agreed. As a young adult in the RAF, I exhausted the entire collection of books in the library at RAF Lyneham, often reading 3 books a day.

From the early 1980s I’ve been a member of Greenpeace, reading their regular updates on the environment. As a child I was brought up in the Church of England, at one time considering a future as a priest. The lack of response of the local congregation to our family grief at my mother’s death two days after my 16th birthday sparked my investigation into religion, and I read the King James’ Bible from cover to cover, learning much that disturbed me. Later in life, investigating religion more broadly, I read the Qur’an from cover to cover; a decidedly uninspiring experience. Working in many different fields, including agriculture, art, sales, education, administration, law, tax, journalism, photography, leisure, and local government, I’ve absorbed many facts, witnessed many different opinions, and encountered many different attitudes.

Some writers do little or no research for their fiction. I’ve always respected the need for the reader to have confidence that my books are based on factual information blended with imagination to create a story, so I research where I need to. And, having led a full life, I also use personal experiences.

This novel is my fourteenth; five unpublished and forming my ‘apprenticeship’, one self-published, and eight published by the splendid independent publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing, so I felt no need to study further regarding story content, structure, or language use, having read many books on the topic of writing.

But the list of research sources below should illustrate how seriously I took the task of getting the facts right for ‘An Excess Of…’. The sources shown without a link are actual books I own, you know those objects with covers and containing pages.

So, in no particular order, here’s the list of sources I used:

Carbon Brief

Earth Hour

Population Matters

The Guardian

Imperial College


The Ecologist



The Green Party

Green World

We Are Possible

Ocean Witness


The Humanists

Stand Earth

Woodland Trust

38 Degrees

Friends of the Earth

The Independent



Secular Society






Climate Hero


World Climate Research Programme

World Meteorological Organisation

World Resources Institute


The Bible

The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an

The Feminist Companion to Mythology

Encyclopedia of Gods

Man’s Religious Quest

Research for Writers

The World’s Religions

Sex; the Erotic Review

Penguin Encyclopedia

Encyclopaedia Britannica

The World of Science

Survive the Savage Sea

The Beauty Myth

The Ra Expeditions

The First Muslim

The Blind Watchmaker

6 thoughts on “Researching for the Novel.

  1. Thanks for your very informative post. I received a bible for my 12th birthday and set myself the task of reading it cover to cover. It started to dawn on me – I was a bit shocked at first – that it was little more than mythology, and not much different from many other fantastical stories that I had read. I started to wonder why adults would believe it (and thus began a sort of quiet rebellion that lead to a mistrust of adult judgement). Later, I read other religious texts that cemented my opinions. How we grow!

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    1. Yes, Lynette, reading any so-called ‘sacred text’ generally reveals the inconsistencies, internal contradictions and sheer injustices and even cruelty of the specified deity. It baffles me that otherwise intelligent people can take any of these books seriously, let alone use them as a guide for life.

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  2. Never underestimate the value of research. You are indeed well read. We didn’t have a TV until I was 12, which I always thought was fortunate. I read A Tale of Two cities when I was 11.

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    1. The first adult book I passed before the matronly librarian was ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, the WWI classic. Either she hadn’t read it, or accepted my choice because it was a classic. After that, I realised I could take any book I wanted!

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    1. Thanks, Brenda. I imagine my love of the written word stems from a childhood without TV until I was 14 years old.
      I’m currently working through an idea for another book, but it’ll be a while before I even start to write it!

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