Researching for my novel, Paper Boats, was as every bit of fun as it was to write it. The photo posted here of me was taken by a farmer on his land in the Polish countryside early in the morning. I think this was 2007.
If you follow my blog posts, you may remember a month or so ago I posted a map of Otto’s travels (Otto, for those that don’t know, is the main character in my book). I’m not the kind of writer who sits home and dives into books and attacks the internet doing research. Yes, I do read what’s required to know facts and events, but there’s nothing like visiting the places where the story is going to be set and unfold.
I walked certain parts of the route Otto took during his journey and it was very inspiring for me. Some days I would sit in a field like this and write for a few hours. It made the storytelling that much more vivid and alive, heightening all the senses. I have no doubt my writing was better because of it.
The farmer I met in Poland spoke very little English, but that was fine because I spoke very little Polish. I showed him pictures of what I was doing and he was very excited. He took me all around his farm and pointed out places the German and Russian soldiers camped. And then he took me into his barn and pulled from a dusty shelf a few WWII weapons. One was a Gewehr 41, the German version of a semi automatic rifle. It was rusted and in poor shape but holding it made the experience of following Otto’s route that much more amazing.