Vivienne Dockerty

Author of Historical Fiction

Book Research: How Much Should You Do?

Although research is never wasted ...


Before I begin writing one of my books, I always carry out a lot of book research. With me writing historical sagas, it is important for me to get my facts right ...

When doing your book research, it's always a good idea to go and visit the location where it's set.

When doing your book research, it's always a good idea to go and visit the location where it's set.

copyright: igabriela / 123rf stock photo (licensee)

I remember being told by a reader that Lysol, a cleaning fluid, wasn't invented until twenty years after one of my characters had used it and once I got chunnered at by a member of a local historical society, who said that part of the story that I was telling wasn't true!

I sometimes wonder if a reader could even be bothered googling or looking up a fact in a reference library. Surely it would spoil the continuity of the story?

"As an avid reader myself, that's something I've never done! It seems very pedantic!"

Besides doing my book research via the usual channels, most of my stories have come from my dad or my granny. I was fortunate that both of them were into storytelling and, of course, there was also my mother, who left me the original manuscript for Shattered Dreams.

Some authors visit the area where the story is set. In my case, I was able to trace the footsteps of my ancestor when I was writing about Maggie in A Woman Undefeated.

I went to the Irish settlement at Denna Point, saw the mooring rings where the cattle boat tied up, the pub called The Harp where the men could slake their thirsts, and imagined their tarpaulin shelters slung over the branches of the ancient oak trees, many of which still grow there to this day.

Then I trekked over muddy fields until I came across a dilapidated old cottage on a narrow country lane. In my imagination, it was Lilac Cottage, where Maggie used to live.

In Dreams Can Come True, I visited Ballina in County Mayo, walked across the bridge, then looked across to the islands in the River Moy.

For A Distant Dream, I went to the village of Willunga, south of Adelaide and imagined my characters, sleeping in makeshift shelters in the Willunga Courthouse grounds (I was living in the area at the time).

All in all, I feel that I carry out a proper amount of book research and it certainly helps in the development of my characters when you can stand in their footsteps and imagine being them.

Would you like to read my books? Visit my online bookstore for paperbacks or my Amazon author page for Kindle versions.

Until next time ...


More about Vivienne Dockerty ...

Since arriving back in the U.K I have enjoyed meeting lots of people at the Author Talks and book signing events that I have been invited to. It has been great connecting with my roots again and listening to other people's stories whilst I have been doing research for my next book.

A big thank you to all the readers who have posted Amazon reviews after they have finished one of my books.


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Her Heart's Desire

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