In regard to the thirteen (soon to be fifteen) novels I’ve written, anywhere from a quarter to a third of the time is spent doing the research that makes the incidents in my books plausible enough for readers.
It doesn’t matter if the story pertains to a topic which is second nature to me (say, a street route, movie studio roster, and location of a new planet for a contemporary Hollywood story–as I did for my very first novel, True Hollywood Lies; or if I’m looking for a zombie drug, traditional bigamist outpost and White House floorplan, which was necessary for my latest story, The Candidate, research is an integral part of my–and most novelists’–writing process.
And it most cases, it takes us far outside our comfort zones.
Case it point: I interviewed two licensed commercial pilots–one who flies jumbo jets for a national carrier, another who flies mid-sized private jets for corporate clients–for a very important scene in The Candidate, in which the plane of a highly skilled licensed pilot’s plane is sabotaged, but it must look like pilot error.
You’d think that would be easy, right?
Wrong. Here’s why: