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This novel is my fourteenth; five unpublished and forming my ‘apprenticeship’, one self-published, and eight published by the splendid independent publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing, so I felt no need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:
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
The World of Science
Survive the Savage Sea
The Beauty Myth
The Ra Expeditions
The First Muslim
The Blind Watchmaker