The last time I read a reference book for research was three of my own books back. I read No Mean City, the classic expos-ay (can't find the e-acute symbol) of (some say hatchet job on) 1930s Glasgow, for Dandy Gilver and The Unpleasantness in The Ballroom.
Since then I've written Quiet Neighbors (May 2016), Dandy Gilver and Some Nuns (working title) and am halfway through The New Book (barely working title) without cracking a single volume.
What I have done - and this answers the other half of the question - is trumph about and stare at stuff, sniffing the air and listening to the birdsong. Quiet Neighbors is set in Wigtown - Scotland's book town - and I spent four days down there last summer, during the annual book festival. A casual observer might have thought I was stoned, or trying to remember if I'd turned the oven off, as I dawdled up and down the streets of the town, sat on benches, looked out from the harbourside and watched the clouds roll by.
|Douglas Water, Lanarkshire|