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As someone who writes (sort of) historical fiction, I thought I'd do a post on researching and different ways to get information. LIKE CLOCKWORK in particular required a lot of research...although it's set in a fantasy world, the society is largely and obviously based upon historical India. I did a great deal of research before starting the novel, focusing mainly on Indian customs and clockmaking, as the story has a distinctly steampunk-ish feel and clockwork is a huge part of the magic system.
Below are some of my tips for research:
1. Pictures/videos are always better. When researching a place, culture, or custom, try to find videos that depict what you're looking for rather than just reading about it. With LIKE CLOCKWORK, I rented every documentary on India I could find and took notes while I watched. Being able to watch the people of India interact with one another and with their environment provided me with a basic template upon which to build my own world. Books are all well and good, but a visual image will better allow you to describe the scenery and what's going on, and since I didn't have the money to travel to India myself movies were the next best thing.
2. Personal exchanges are always better. If possible, meet with someone who is an expert in the category you're trying to research. For instance, I visited several mechanical clock shops in Salt Lake City and spoke to clockmakers before writing LIKE CLOCKWORK. When writing the original version of ENCRYPTED I spoke to an uncle who has spent a great deal of time in Nepal. There are all sorts of resources you can use, especially in major museums, so if at all possible try to find someone you can talk to.
3. Go directly to the source. When you read a book with information on a certain subject, find the bibliography and look up each source. Try to trace the information back to its origin - you'd be surprised how much it changes as it is transferred from one source to another.
So for those of you writing historical fiction, or fiction that requires any kind of research, go forth! Become as informed as you can to increase the authenticity of your work :).