Here’s a question for you:
Your hero has a cocaine habit. In order to appreciate his/her viewpoint, do you seek out the drug and take it as part of the writing process, or do you simply imagine what it might be like when you write about it? Do you talk to known users as part of your research? Equally, when it comes to preparation, do you simply read about it in the press and make it up, or do you try it yourself?
Drugs are one of those things that are illegal, but a lot of people participate in – hence my question, which really boils down to this: for the sake of authenticity, is it important for you as an author, to know about what you’re writing about in detail? And if so, where do you draw the line?
It’s possible to become a drunk for a night, or a week as part of your research. You can even sleep rough if you want. You can develop a cigarette habit until you cough, and know what it’s like to hack one up every morning. All this is perfectly legal. Then we come to the illegal – joints, lines and injections, each increasing in addictive qualities and physical effect. If you try something once and don’t like it, what do you do if a regular user tells you ‘you gotta get a habit man, to appreciate it’?
Then there’s the question of murder. Obviously I’m not advocating killing others in the name of authenticity, but is it something you might consider?
The question is open to the floor: how far are you prepared to go?