Research – with a twist

It’s very easy as an author to get bogged down in the research for a new idea, instead of concentrating on the writing, especially if you’re writing outside of your comfort zone.

My next thriller, Under Fire, features a stolen submarine. Problem is, I’ve never served on a submarine – so how to make the scenes realistic?

The solution was a simple one. Find a submarine, have a wander around, and get that all-important sense of place I was trying to capture in my writing.

The Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, Sydney was just the ticket. They have an Oberon-class submarine, HMAS Onslow, which is open to the public daily. I managed to pick a quiet time during the day (I think everybody else was in the pub) and spent some valuable time with one of the volunteers, asking questions and getting a real feel for what it was like to serve on the vessel.


The visit helped my imagination gauge what it must be┬álike for a submarine crew – the cramped conditions, the heat, noise, smells. Everything I experienced that day would be amplified in the confines of a serving submarine. Within an hour, I’d joined those lucky what-names at the pub and was furiously scribbling into my notebook.

Hopefully when you read Under Fire later this year, you’ll get that sense of place too.

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