Researching the Next Next

As I’m leading a life of writing, I also have to prepare for the next as well as the next next. In fact, I started doing some heavy duty research for the book I’m writing now about two years ago, while I was writing the final Mas Arai mystery, HIROSHIMA BOY, which was published last year.

For people who are more linear–who like to approach projects from A to B, then B to C, etc., this may seem like a wacky way to work. How can you write a novel, while preparing for something that you may be writing two years from now. I find that I need to start planting seeds early, testing out different soil and planters, to see the best container for my story. It’s best to start this mental experimentation while I’m actually writing something else. This way, the growth of story can be more wild and organic. It’s like that patch of seeds that you planted, but haven’t watched consistently. I’m not counting on its development to sustain me financially just yet. Later, when I’ve seen how the seedlings have responded to sun, I can figure out how to manipulate it, prune it and tie it down.

Research is a delight in itself for me and unlike writing sometimes, requires a map and a plan. I feel like I’m traveling the high seas, understanding the steps I need to go forward, but also knowing that there will be surprises.


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