Because THE NOVELIST would be dealing with theological issues, I spent a lot of time studying the problem of evil. Not everyone will agree with my conclusions--in fact, if you look in my "reader mailbag" on my web page, you'll see that I was unconsciously addresssing this even in THE PEARL, and at least one reader took exception to my conclusion.
I also had to research casinos and slot machines, and that research was fascinating. Did you know that games are designed to take your money? The designers of slot machines are always coming up with new ways to make you think you've *almost* won, so you'll insert another coin or another token and try again. There's a psychology to the placement of games on the game room floor, too.
Anyway, I was fascinated by this study and read several books on slots. Theology and slots--what a combination! But those were my two chief areas of research.
Tomorrow: the writing