Where's the fun in only writing what you know? Okay, I agree that journalists should attempt getting to know what they are writing about before they publish it. And writers of self-help books, Ikea instructions and chain-saw manuals might need expertise on their subjects. But the novelist’s greatest asset is their imagination and the air of mystery surrounding their work. And they can always do research – a wonderful diversion from the act of writing.
My research missions have taken me to the Okavanga Swamp, a tango festival in Delft, a sex addict workshop in Kings Cross, a chocolate factory in Yorkshire, the Courts of Justice, hat shops, pastry shops, Retirement Homes. The books I’ve acquired include sex toy catalogues, sperm ownership law cases, books on the habits of lions. I’ve run a writers block workshop for people who would never become writers no matter how unblocked they became, learnt to dance the Argentinian tango, played Scrabble in fields and on high buildings. Just to mention a few. There’s a book on all this brewing. I’d love to hear from other writers on their research missions, Perhaps we could publish a quarterly.