Mr. Cornwell, I am writing you because I have been reading your books for some time now, and there is a lot of research involved. Myself being another writer, I am wondering where you do your research for stories and if you have ever visited the present day sights that your books are based on. Thank you for taking the time to read this. James Vest
Hallo Mr. Cornwell, I hope this letter has reached you in the best of cirmcumstances. First things first, like all people who write to you, I too love your books and especially how you write them. Like you balance them with a precision-scale. Just wonderfull! And yes, the Arthur books are most definitely the ones I love the most. Btw, did you know those books were translated in Dutch? But to continue, I have read your hints on how to start writing stories. And there lies my question. How do you start you research? And how do you write your research into your stories? And also, I read that you go on location to do your research. And there also lies my problem, my resources are limited but does this mean I still can research via the internet or is the internet a little bit "unreliable"? Also, I like to ask if you happen to like J.R.R. Tolkien and his works? And other famous historical-detective-writers like Steven Saylor, John Maddox Robberts, Robert van Gulik and Amy Myers? To finish my letter, I hope to read from you soon. Very best regards Brendy Meurisse
Most of the research is reading! And more reading. And still more reading. Hard to be specific, but I generally start with a book that gives a wide overview, and then focus down on various aspects - more books. Location? Yes, it helps enormously to go to a place you're writing about, but it's also amazing what you can discover from good maps and good guide books or travel books. Internet? Very unreliable!!!! I've been caught more than once by sites that seemed authoritative, and weren't. As for incorporating research into the book - you chuck away 95% of the research, and only include what is necessary for the story. Great temptation to include everything, to show how much you know, but it has to be resisted!
I've always liked Tolkien, though it's been a few years since I read him. I used to read van Gulik, and liked him, but on the whole I prefer contemporary detective novels (a long way from what I write).