Tom Palmer's writing blog - How I write: how you write, Part Two autumn term
Posted by Tom Palmer
27 Sep 2011
Talk to someone
“He told me about how Russian submarine captains challenge each other to get their submarines into Norwegian fjords… and how Norway is training its special forces to attack oil rigs. It reminded me that talking to people can sometimes be the best way of finding out things to write about.”
I travelled to Norway earlier this month to research Squad II. The book is set in Tromso, the most northern city in the world. I needed to see the city, the Arctic mountains around it and to travel on boats in the area. I was due to be there for four days, so I had no time to waste.
But one of the most useful pieces of research I did happened before I even got to Norway.
On the plane from London I was reading my Rough Guide to Norway. The man next to me kept glancing at the book and soon we were talking. Johan was Norwegian. He was interested in why I was going to Norway. So I told him.
I am writing a book where children go to spy on a conference where Russia, Norway, America and others are arguing over who owns the oil and gas under the Arctic. If things go wrong in the story it could lead to a war.
Johan and I then had a conversation for over an hour. He told me about:
- how Norway are working with the Russians to get at the oil and gas in the Arctic
- how the Americans are not keen on this and want to stop the Russians being friendly with Europeans
- how Russian submarine captains challenge each other to get their submarines into Norwegian fjords
- and, how Norway is training its special forces to attack oil rigs
He gave me so much brilliant information. It was a huge help in deciding who my villain is going to be. He also suggested films and books that I could watch and read.
At the end of the conversation I had so many ideas about my story. It reminded me that talking to people can sometimes be the best way of finding out things to write about. When I wrote a book about young African footballers coming to Europe to play football, I talked to two boys from Ghana who were about to move to Europe. The book was so much better because of that.
After the plane landed and we said goodbye, I told myself that as well as looking round the country, I had to talk to lots of people.
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