Back in October I wrote a post on this blog about doing research and why it’s just as important for fiction writers as non-fictions writers to do careful research.

Today I’m going to tell you about the research I’ve done for the novel I am currently writing. Once I decided where the majority of the story would take place I really needed to get some information. My protagonist is going to Kenya on a safari. I have never been there so I didn’t have a clue what it was like. She is also going to get caught up in the poaching problem there, so I needed to find out more about that issue.

My first step was to go to the library. There I found a great book about safaris to Kenya. It told all the things you should bring, what kind of clothes to wear, even a list of common words and phrases in Swahili. (I will probably include some of them in my book).

Next I went online to find out how to get a passport and if a visitor’s visa would be needed. I’m not sure yet if I’ll include any of the information about the passport, but I will most likely mention the necessity for the visa and what my character will have to go through to get it.

Another great resource online is Google Alerts. It’s free. You can sign up for any topic you want and whenever articles are published dealing with that topic you get them via your e-mail. I get articles almost daily about safaris and poaching. I had to weed through them, but many gave me current information on what is going on right now about these topics.

I bought two books on Kenya which were recently published and one book on the animals there with some info on the poaching problem. I also bought a great map of Kenya which shows the game preserves as well as street maps of the major cities.

Finally, I did some interviewing. My first stop was to a travel agency. Travel Leaders (shown in the photo) is near my home. I went in and explained to the agent that I was writing a novel and asked if she would be able to give me some information on flights to Kenya. Just a couple days later I received an e-mail from her of a full itinerary for a flight from Detroit to Kenya with cost, times of flights, lay overs, etc. The information is going to help me a great deal.

My second interview was with a writer friend who just happens to do mission work at  a school in Kenya and has traveled there frequently. We met for lunch. She brought pictures of local life. She also gave me great information I would never find in books. She told me things about transportation (if you want a fast getaway you don’t want to take a taxi), what the bathrooms are like, to make sure my character has a flashlight which she can wear on her head and not have to hold in her hand (you’ll find out why in the book), the difficulty of finding people who can be trusted. She provided tons of practical information of life in Kenya.

With all this research I can now write my novel and it will seem real. Hopefully, my readers will be able to picture Kenya in their minds and feel everything my character will be going through because of the research I’ve done.

Remember to acknowledge the people and sources of your research in your book. You might want to give them a free copy of your book when it’s published.

(This will be my only post this week due to Thanksgiving. I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t eat too much.)

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