Please welcome Laura Jarratt, author of Skin Deep. We're really pleased to be taking part in the Bog Tour for this book, check back tomorrow for our review.
Researching Skin Deep
There’s a lot of Skin Deep that comes from knowledge I’ve acquired over many years but there were areas too that needed in-depth research. And when you’re researching a book even those areas that you think you know well need checking properly because it’s easy to be operating under a misapprehension. I came across one of those in the final edit before the book went out and I had to change a paragraph about Cole and Ryan’s journey to sell the bike. I’d always thought erroneously that you had to be a certain age to travel pillion but there is no legal age in the UK, as long as you are able to sit safely on the bike. I realised this on a day out with the family when a guy with a little girl of about eight rode into the car park. As soon as I got home I dived into Google to check the legislation and make a change to the book. So tip no. 1…
- Double check everything, even the things you think you’re sure of
A lot of the small detail of Karen’s life comes from information I’ve gathered over a number of years, from being around at the zenith of the New Age movement and knowing people committed to a travelling lifestyle. I also knew a fair bit about narrowboats that I’d got from a guy who’d once worked as a fitter and at one point I’d wanted a boat myself but I still had to go and check up-to-date information about residential permits and waterways laws. Tip no. 2…
- Google is a lot easier to use if you already know something about the subject so don’t always dive for the search engine – what do you already know that might help?
The difficult and most time consuming parts of Skin Deep in terms of research were the medical information on burns and the police procedure later in the book. For the burns, I read around a lot, both fiction and non-fiction accounts from burns sufferers and then I trawled the net for info from hospital websites. There’s a lot of information available online for patients and carers. Once I’d got everything together I mailed a writing friend who got his doctor mum to check my timeline was reasonable and that I was working along the right lines. At this stage an expert to spot errors is invaluable. I used the same method with the police procedure. This was a little easier as I’ve had to sit in as responsible adult with minors as part of my job so I had a bit of an idea about the law in this area. But it’s actually really difficult to get the kind of information I needed to make those scenes accurate so again another writing friend who works for the police came through for me and got me the guidelines for detaining and interviewing minors and also what happens after interview in murder cases. Which makes tip no. 3…
- There’s no substitute for an expert but you don’t always need to go bothering busy professionals, which can be difficult for an unpublished writer anyway. If you get out and meet people and also make online friends in a writing community who can help you out, then you’ll have access to an amazing range of occupations and expertise. Use the people you know and help them out in return when you can.
My favourite bit of research for Skin Deep though was checking out what tofu tastes like so I could write Ryan’s perception of it accurately, and I have to say I think he’s absolutely right about it tasting like candle wax. But it was the look of utter horror on my other half’s face when he realised he had to eat it for dinner too – priceless and not to be missed for anything. He still gives me the evils when I bring it up, hehe.
Thanks to Egmont for letting us take part in the blog tour, this is a brilliant look into how to research for a book :)