There are two different types of research: research on the ground and research of the historical sources. When I wrote my first book, Caligula, I did a huge amount of reading to immerse myself in the Roman world, but the physical Rome I built was constructed from a map I discovered on the internet. I only visited the forum properly for the first time when the book was complete and it was wonderful to find that the scale and the topography was just as I imagined it. Claudius was different, because it meant taking vague snippets of information about a battle and recreating something close to the reality using all the military sources I could lay my hands on. The Colchester of Hero of Rome was the first time I was able to actually visit somewhere before I wrote about it, and being able to see the topography and imagine it as it was two thousand years ago was invaluable for creating the big scenes like the arrival of Boudicca's army and the fighting that followed. That said, the Colonia of Valerius's time would not have been the place it is without the help of Philip Crummy's superb book City of Victory.
|Research can take you to some of the world's wonderful places|
Of course, there is no substitute for being there and experiencing it yourself, and I'd much prefer to be swanning around the Bavarian Alps for a couple of weeks than sitting in front of this computer. But there's no longer an excuse for saying 'I can't, because ...'