Sunday, November 29, 2009


By Christine Thackeray

Some people may wonder whether fiction requires research. I've found it does. In my first book I had to see if there was a real medical condition that would make someone sleep for long periods of time and wake up at random intervals. It turns out there was exactly such a condition called Klein Levine Syndrome and I had to change some of the specifics of my story to make it more plausible.

In my next visiting teaching adventure, due to come out in the spring, I had to look into Child Protective Service and find out how different states dealt with cases of neglect and abuse. Each state has different terminology and processes. In the end I used the most common terms, even though it wasn't exactly accurate for the state I imagined but since I never actually mention the state, it seemed the best way to go.

My current work in progress is a whole new experience. I'm writing a historical fiction piece which has required years of study. It covers King Herod and I thought I was well-versed about the events of his reign. Then my husband took me to Israel and I was amazed how different reality was from books. The first shook was to stop thinking in American sizes. You can see the Dead Sea from Jerusalem, so Jericho and Qumran which seemed world away are more like suburbs of that great city.

Another surprise was how refined their architecture was. I thought their buildings would be more primitive. After careful perusal of Masada, I've decided that slaves offset the advent of power tools, evening the playing field considerably.

Finally, research begats inspiration. I was a little stumped at a point in the story and after visiting the place in person, I received such clarity- I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and start writing.


Kimberly Job said...

I know some people love research, but it's definitely not my favorite part of writing.