In order to write such a novel, though, I had to immerse myself in the time, the place, and the facts. So I have never had a research assistant, because only if those facts are already in my own head can I use them in a scene as I come to it. Sometimes the times and the people I was writing about seemed more real than what was around me. I am sure other writers have had this experience. I especially feel that connecting with objects the person owned or saw or handled has a way of bringing their ghosts back. So going to the places where they lived or visited is very helpful. The challenge is that many may not exist anymore, or if they do, have been spiffed up and turned into tourist attractions, e.g, the Tower of London. You really cannot experience that in the full light of day with swarming tourists; you have to be there at night when they have left.
This has certainly been my experience just about every time. These days, my head is spending a lot of time in ancient Pompeii; I’m grateful that my visit was at a time of the year when attendance at the archaeological site is low.