GUEST POST: THE WONDERS OF RESEARCH

Sara Foster’s guest post was written as part of a blog tour to promote the release of her latest novel, All That is Lost Between Us. Click here for my review.

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I’m a huge fan of the research stage of writing a novel. I always find it so fascinating and enriching that I usually have trouble calling a halt to it and starting to write the book! It was no different with All That is Lost Between Us. When we headed off to the UK in March 2013 I had some very specific goals – to learn more about mountain rescue, to get behind the scenes at a Lake District school, and to walk the spirit road – an ancient path where corpses were taken from outlying villages to be buried in consecrated ground. I couldn’t have anticipated all the little gems the trip would throw at me – from a boat made famous by Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons sitting in one of the halls of the school, to the money tree we found on a walk around Tarn Hows. I was fascinated by this tree full of coins, and later research would throw up all sorts of stories surrounding their existence (I’ll leave the details to be discovered in the novel!).

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Money Tree, Lake District, UK

Everyone I met was so helpful that I had a full tour of the school, and was shown around every room in mountain rescue HQ – both experiences proving invaluable when I came to writing the tiny details in the descriptive sections that really bring a book to life. My only limitation was being five months pregnant, which meant I wasn’t all that keen to take on a rigorous climb in snow! Alas, I never got to stand at a summit and survey the world below! However, I did walk the lonely lane on which I imagined those teenagers in the very first scene, when the car comes hurtling out of the night straight towards them.

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Coffin stone, Lake District, UK

The research didn’t stop when I got back to Australia either. For a while I was absorbed in Julia Bradbury’s Wainwright Walks, then Richard Askwith’s memoir of fell-running called Feet in the Clouds. I even found another thriller based in the Lake District, The Fell Walker by Michael Wood, that helped to spark my imagination. It was when I found myself downloading my third practical guide to fell-running that I began to realize it was time to take a step back from research and begin the daunting, if exhilarating, process of turning it into a story.

The result is All That is Lost Between Us – a very intimate story of a family in trouble, but enfolded within a much larger backdrop of all that I learned along the way. I hope that all who find it enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Click here for more information about the book.

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