These were four ideas that I came up with that we’ve used ourselves. So I hope that they inspire you for your book.
Number 1: Read up on your subject! (And watch movies)
Might seem a really simple one. Just type in on Amazon the time period or the geographical area. When we did the Shona Jackson Series, the first book that we wrote was Meet Me At 10.
I did loads of research on the 1950s America and 1950s Deep South. It was an area that before that series I didn’t have a clue about.
I watched some movies also like Mississippi Burning, The Help and Fried Green Tomatoes in order to get more of a feel about the 1950s and or the Deep South. It will also give you an idea about any slang and dialect.
Number 2: Ask people who are from the area and use social media.
This can be physically from the area where they live or work in the area/field that you’re talking about. When we did the Shona Jackson Series, it was on my Twitter actually that I asked people if they were from Alabama and if they were, if I could get in contact with them. A couple of them then became our beta readers and they turned out to be absolutely amazing help.
They would tell us about dialect, what things were believable, what weren’t, how we could change it and how we could make it the absolute best book that it can be and where it’s really authentic.
Then with our latest series, which is the Rachel Morrison Series, we have used a retired murder detective and he’s helping us loads with our research for this series.
And again, I reached out on social media. Luckily he’s a writer, so when I had to ask him some really dodgy questions, he wasn’t shocked because it was all in the name of research! But the thing is I also know that he will be able to tell me if something that we’re doing is believable or not. A lot of the time people are only too happy to help because the worst thing is when they feel like people are writing about their field or their area and it’s completely off. So just put out a tweet or find a group on Facebook and just ask people for their help.
Number 3: Use a virtual assistant.
We’ve got a virtual assistant or they’re also known as VA’s. Ours is called Erin (Click here to check her out) She was really instrumental in some of our research for The Beach House, which is book three in the Shona Jackson Series.
We gave her a list of questions because The Beach House is set across different years in California. So we asked her to research about the news, the food, religion, fashion trends etc. You get the idea.
You can get a virtual assistant from typing into Google, asking for recommendations, you could go on Upwork, all different places.
Number 4: Use Google Images or Google Earth.
This one’s really good for the description of the landscape. If you’re setting your book in London, Liverpool or New York, just go on Google Images or Google earth and type in that destination and really get a feel for the place. What colours can you see? Is it bustling? Is it full of mountains? Can you see any flowers? Are there are a lot of cars about? It makes it more authentic for the reader. I think it was quite famous that EL James used Google Earth in order to write 50 Shades . So our book The Burying Place, is set in Cornwall so we’ve been looking up Google Images and Google Earth in order to make it more real so people can really sense that they’re in Cornwall.
Let me know what book you’re working on at the moment!