Sunday, September 6, 2015

Guest Post: Andy Peloquin - Why Research Matters for Fiction

My guest today is Andy Peloquin's novel, The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, debuted on August 21. Before you read his article on research, he suggests you should know 10 things about him.

10 Things You Need to Know About Andy Peloquin:

  1. Hot wings, ALWAYS!
  2. I never forget a face, but rarely remember a name.
  3. I'm a head taller than the average person (I'm 6' 6")
  4. Marvel > DC
  5. I was born in Japan, and lived there until the age of 14.
  6. Selena Gomez and Five Finger Death Punch are both in my playlist.
  7. Aliens are real, but it's self-centered of us to believe that they would come to visit Earth.
  8. Watching sports: suck. Playing sports: EPIC!
  9. I earned a purple belt in Karate/Hapkido/Taekwondo.
  10. I dislike most Christmas music, aside from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Why Research Matters for Fiction by Andy Peloquin

When you read a blog post, a news article, or a piece of content on a website, you expect that it has been thoroughly researched, its facts checked, and the sources verified. For fiction, however, that is not always the case.
How many works of fiction have you read? Did you know that 36.7% of them have not been thoroughly researched? Did you know that I made that last statistic up? No you didn’t, because you didn't check your facts!
A lot of fiction writers believe that doing research isn't important for their work. This is not usually the case with works of fiction set in historical times (history buffs can be pretty harsh critics!). I have noticed that a lot of mystery and thriller writers will do one of two things:
  • Get VERY specific with certain details (street names, landmarks, etc.)
  • Leave details specifically vague
Both of these things are an overcompensation for their lack of research into the cities or towns where their novels are set.
The main weakness, however, is often in fantasy and science fiction novels!
For science fiction, it's a bit beyond reason to expect that every writer has a degree in physics or chemistry. Sometimes, a simple explanation of "futuristic" technology (such as light sabers) is the simplest way to go. However, with the increasing tech-savviness of the modern reader, the "oversimplified" science may no longer fly.
I have found that fantasy writers tend to have the hardest time keeping their works accurate or realistic. For example, I just read a novel where a prolonged battle (for a month or two) took no serious toll on the castle defending itself. The attacking force didn't use any sort of siege equipment, either. At a number of times, there were "heroes" and "villains" having their fights in the middle of the battles, when everyone around them simply stopped and watched? And what's worse, the heroes became experts with their swords and got "perfect" bodies in just a few months. Doesn't seem realistic, right?
This shows a lack of understanding of proper battle tactics, how high the casualties can be, and how battle actually happens. Don't get me started on a familiarization with the fatigue of constant battle, the amount of time it takes to master a weapon or reach peak physical fitness.
How many stories have you read where a city has no proper sewage disposal/drainage system? How many had a realistic structure of governance? You'll find that fantasy writers are sometimes (not always, but a lot more often than you might think) the laziest when it comes to research.
Yes, it's hard to research a world that you have created. After all, there are no history books for your fictitious world, so there's nowhere to check how your civilization has evolved over time. That's no excuse for not doing at least some research into how life really was in the Roman Era/Dark Ages/Middle Ages/Renaissance/whatever period your novel is set. That research helps to make the novel as realistic as possible.
There will be a lot of readers who enjoy the book for its own sake, but you will always encounter readers who put down your book because it just isn't realistic. Why would you be okay with losing a reader? All it takes is a few minutes/hours of research, and you could keep those readers hooked on your book!
For all authors, research is HIGHLY important, but more so for fantasy authors. You're already giving readers an "unrealistic" enough world in which to spend their time--you have to make it as realistic and accurate as possible!

The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer
The Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: ruthless, unrelenting, immortal. Yet he is haunted by lost memories, bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power yet denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death.
When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?
Go here to get Andy's book:

Where to Find Andy Peloquin: Lover of All Things Dark and Mysterious
Andy Peloquin--a third culture kid to the core--has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.

When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn't looked back since.  

Andy's first attempt at writing produced In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. He has learned from the mistakes he made and used the experience to produce  Blade of the Destroyer, a book of which he is very proud. 

Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.

His website ( is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings--along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.  
He can also be found on his social media pages, such as: 

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