After I finished writing 3,000 Miles of Arizona, I swore I would not try something so challenging again. I loved it and it's still the piece of work I'm most proud of, but it was hard. The whole time I was writing the first draft I couldn't decide whether it was best to research before, during or after and in the end I did all three. It turned out that after was the best one for me, better to get the story written and put in the details later.
I've written some shorter pieces since then, a horror story, some really quite embarrassing stuff under another name, and another novel which is based heavily in truth so it was easy. Maybe it was too easy, because now I find myself writing an epic novel, set in a small American town, that begins in the 1980's.
I don't know how exactly I got from 'writing this American road trip novel was too hard, I'll never do this again', to 'You know what would be even better? If it was also a period story!' (I know, it's horrifying to refer to the decade in which I was born as 'period'.)
Right now I'm only 5,000 words in, so it's still at the 'Yes! This will absolutely be my masterpiece!' stage. I'll come back to this when I hit the 'Oh dear God what was I thinking?!' stage, because let's be honest, that stage is going to last roughly from 10,000 words - forever.