The Best Type of Research - Lynne Garner

When I first started writing professionally I specialised in writing craft related topics for adults. Slowly my writing expanded to include non-fiction for children, picture books and recently short stories for newly confident readers (Anansi the Trickster Spider and Anansi, Trickier Than Ever). However recently I've had a yearning to write something different. So as a lover of Sci-Fi and Steam Punk, (think the film 'Hugo' that features a boy who discovers an automaton) I decided I'd try my hand at Steam Punk.

However I realised I'd not read any Steam Punk for quite some time. So I grabbed my Kindle and went searching for something to read. I quickly discovered a list of classics and proceeded to download them. They included:

  •  The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
  • From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne

I'm on chapter ten of The Lost World at the moment and I'm really enjoying the process of picking it apart. Although I won't be copying Mr Doyle's methods of constructing sentences or using many of the terms he uses (don't think they'll be considered PC) the process of getting a feel for this genre is perhaps the most enjoyable research I've done to date.

As I've read a few ideas for stories have started to form. I'm even planning a trip to Black Heath, London to research my planned setting. With fingers crossed by the autumn I'll feel confident enough to tackle this new project.

But this research process also got me wondering about other authors and what they've read to gain insight into a new genre. 

So if you've read others work as your research I'd love to know what is was. Also if there are any books in the Steam Punk genre you feel are a must read please let me know and I'll add them to my list.

Lynne Garner


madwippitt said…
Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series springs to mind. Thoroughly enjoyed them although I wasn't expecting to intially - it wasn't something I'd normally have picked up, but the cover caught my eye and after reading a couple of pages I wanted to read the rest!

Look forward to reading your own project - are you planning to do a full length book or a collection of stories?
Susan Price said…
I second Madwippet's vote for Mortal Engines - it's fantastic.
My brother - a great fan of steam punk - recommends Gibson's 'Difference Engine' which is about how history might have changed if Babbage had succeeded in building his 'difference engine' or steam-driven computer.
Have fun with the research and the writing!
julia jones said…
great minds eh? I didn't know what steam punk was until I read your post. Then I went to Wikipedia and found no mention of Mortal Engines which I'd also picked up not expecting to enjoy and found really impressive. There's a sequence rather like it in the recent Costa winner Blood Red Road. Am impressed by your daring,
Sheridan Winn said…
Lynne, you may be interested in the website of a friend of mine, Charles Christian. He's a novelist and poet and is keen on Steam Punk. What a wonderful name for a genre!
Charles's website is called Urban Fantasist:-
Jan Needle said…
i still don't know what steam punk is, and it's already the day after tomorrow. so - off to wikipedia. i hope it don't tell me no lies!

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