And talking of tea - I've been writing about it too and doing some research - reading about flushes - the bit of the plant that's plucked for tea - the top shoots and leaves and about the fermentation process when oxidisation causes the chlorophyll to break down and the leaves turn from green to brown. Not that I want to put you off the book or anything with all this horticulture - but Ginny's husband is a tea planter and has to drop the odd bit of tea talk into the mix.
My research this afternoon has also taken me to Indian railway timetables, endless porings over Google Maps, picture searches - among my own Indian snaps as well as online images. (That's Victoria Station in Bombay in the picture above) It may sound strange that I work like this, rather than researching in advance or after I've written the story. In fact I do both of those things as well - but when I'm writing I can't help asking myself the questions "Was it really like that? Was it there then? How so you spell that? What does it look like? How long would it take?" Maybe this is just a form of displacement activity to divert me from the true task of writing, but I prefer to believe that it helps me get in there and make it real. If I try to write something without checking the facts, a little voice keeps pestering me that it may be wrong - or that I may forget to check later and a mistake may be woven into the fabric of the story causing me all kinds of problems later to unpick it. I may be barmy but it works for me.I also find when I'm reading a novel that factual inaccuracies cause me to lose faith in the writer and question his or her authority.