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Research Woes

Cheryl's Musings: Research Woes

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


Research Woes

I'm currently working on a YA novel that takes place primarily in Peru. I've been to Peru--once. That was enough time to collect some wonderful photos and notes on the people, places, and cultural details I saw, but unfortunately, I wasn't there long enough to learn everything I now need to know for the book. For the most part, I've been able to fill in the gaps by reading what other travelers have to say about the country. Sites such as Life in Peru, Virtual Tourist, and Rachel in Peru have been extremely helpful, as have a variety of humanitarian websites and sites advertising bicycle and jungle tours...but I still have some unanswered questions.

I'm finding that it's not too difficult to track down information about even extremely small, off-the-beaten-track villages. Travelers and expatriates chronicle their experiences and share photos online--I was even able to find a photo of a particular suspension bridge along the (mostly unpaved) road from Urcos to Puerto Maldonado, Peru. What I need now, though, is a closer look at what life is like for the people in Peru, especially the 50% of the population that lives at or below the poverty line.

Needless to say, these are the people who are writing about their lives online. They also aren't the people most tourists get to know.

My first and best choice is to visit Peru again and, this time, interview a lot of the kids who spend their days selling postcards and finger puppets; but since that doesn't seem an option for the near future, does anyone have any suggestions for me?
:) Cheryl
(Photo from Flickr archives)

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At February 25, 2009 at 3:43 AM , Blogger Tia Nevitt said...

Try talking to young people who are going to college here, or who recently left college and are working here on temporary visas. You want young people so they can tell you how it was recently, not years and years ago.

Even if they were wealthy enough to go to college, they probably know enough about the way their poor live in their country to be able to give you enough information for the purposes of your novel.

Do you read/write Spanish? If so, you can try online places like MySpace or FaceBook for Peruvian groups.

At February 25, 2009 at 7:12 AM , Blogger Dwight Reif said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At February 25, 2009 at 7:21 AM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

Hi Tia--Great idea! I live in a college town, so I bet there are people here I could speak with.

Unfortunately, I don't read/write (or speak) Spanish. I'm studying, but it takes a back seat to writing....

(PS--I deleted that last comment only because it was me, posting under my DH's account...didn't realize he'd signed in...)


At March 3, 2009 at 6:50 AM , Blogger Ward said...

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for mentioning my humble blog. There's definitely a lot of adventure to be had here in Peru, but old married guys like me lead a pretty uneventful life :)

Good luck with the new book.

Cusco, Peru

At March 6, 2009 at 11:11 AM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

Hi Ward,

Thank you for stopping by! And thank you for your blog, which provides one of the few accounts of what it's like to live in Peru (as opposed to traveling there as a tourist.) That's what I look for as a writer--not tales of adventure, but details of real life.


At March 27, 2009 at 9:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cheryl:

Thanks for the compliment. Try contacting the expats that live in Peru by visiting

Some of them live outside of Lima and others have in-laws who are from the remote areas or impoverished socio-economic class you are looking to learn more about.

LAN airlines is also having a sale on flights just in case you are considering a return in the near future.

I look forward to seeing your book published!


At March 27, 2009 at 6:33 PM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

Hi Rachel,

Thank you--I will check out the expat site. I'll check out the airfares, too; that's very, very, very tempting. The more I write, the more I want to return to Peru to fill in details. There are some things that are best discovered in person. Also, THANK YOU for today's link to Peter G's photo blog. It's wonderful!



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