For me, it is vital. Maybe 50% of my research doesn’t end up in my books, but the bones are there. World building doesn’t just pop out of nowhere. A world must have rules and set circumstances related to reality. I count an inadvertent mentor as Frank Herbert with his Dune series. He based the planet Dune on a Middle Eastern desert style of life and he immersed himself in it, adding to it as he went along. Armed with this example of excellence, I tried to incorporate the essential details of a world in my books.
In Darkspire Reaches, this meant demonstrating the difference in the races by more than the physical. There had to be speech patterns and attitudes. Reasons for disagreements needed to happen for the world to come alive. Note, this book is currently free on all ebook platforms for a limited time.
Shadow over Avalon posed different problems as there wasn’t just a difference in race to content with, there was a difference in species. Each of them has their own, very real goals. Each goal defines the species and its ability to survive. Aside from that, I used known landmarks for a lot of the settings and that meant reams of research and photos. It is not just a matter of blithely eliminating all roads, houses, infrastructure, etc. Removing things means other things must be set up to replace these. Then there are other considerations, such as religion, currency, social status, and technology, or the lack thereof. Added into this mix went cutting edge scientific discoveries, and yes, this meant reading published papers on the subjects of embryology, genetics. and physics.
A huge amount or research went into going back into ancient Welsh history to get the true account of King Arthur. Mallory’s account was taken from Gregory of Monmouth, a misogamist monk with a real hatred of women. Hence the incest story, which was total fabrication to discredit women of power. He effectively rewrote history to revile priestesses of the old religion in a way that would provoke an eew factor from the then modern man. What a monk was doing having those sort of thoughts beggars the question. However, it meant I could write a ‘clean’ Arthur, set in a future world with a clear conscience, and discard any erroneous ickiness. I have always thought Arthur was a greater man than portrayed and now I had my vindication based on extensive research. But this is not a historical recreation. It is what happens next, based on the platform of what should have been the true rendition. In twelve days you can see for yourselves. In the meantime, there are pictures on my Pinterest account of my world. Enjoy.