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What is it about research? I know that every minute spent on research is worth an hour doing anything else. Talking to people, in person, on the phone; reading books; checking out web sites; watching documentaries – it’s all part of the job. And yet something stops me.

I put out my hand to make that phone call – and I feel I should be writing instead. Is it just me? Is it the Calvinist Work Ethic?

Researching my last novel I found myself learning enormous amounts about the local police here in Camden, the way they think, they speak, they act. The language the police use is fascinating and revealing in itself – more of that in another article. The point is – it took me ages to get round to calling the right people, and then to following it up, and then to writing up the notes…

Some of the people I met are now my friends. Many of them had useful ideas that I could never have got any other way. So now I’m researching my next novel, and again I’ve been putting off those phone calls, delaying those trips to the library.

But now, finally, I’ve started and again I’m amazed, as ever, at how helpful and insightful other people are. How much people like to talk about their own lives and their own jobs.

OK – I’m off to pick up that phone.