Pictures were an important part of my research process while I was writing and rewriting Out of the Cages. I wrote the first draft while I was living in Pokhara, Nepal, way back in 2006. I remember taking my camera and heading off for a long slow walk around the familiar places, photographing the ordinary and everyday things.
I wanted to remember the little things. The colour of the bananas in the fruit stand, the way bangles were displayed in the corner shop, the smell of singed chickens at the poultry butcher, the curtain in the tea shop.
For me, it was these little details that would help bring my story to life. That would remind me of what it felt like to be in Nepal, and to miss it.
Later, when I was privileged enough to visit India to continue my research, I did a similar thing. I wanted the capture the scope of Mumbai, the colour of the moon, the surprising sights, the fleeting images from a train.
Yes, I took notes, and I wrote in my journal recording sights and sounds and smells and the stories of the amazing people we met. But my photos captured the sense of the place and allowed my memory to tap back into those places, hunting for details to bring my story and its characters to the page.