I'm new here and it's really encouraging to see that a sub-forum exists for novel research. My question is about the issue of approaching individuals (outside of dedicated writing communities like this one) for research. I'm currently researching a novel which is set in a university town and features alumni of different ages returning - one about my age (late-20s), two about 13 years older (late 30s/early 40s). To make the reminiscing of the older characters authentic I'd like to talk to alumni who attended the university at that time about their memories and experiences. I'm a freelance journalist and have worked for the alumni magazine of the university recently, so in theory, I have good access to contacts and approaching them for something extra shouldn't be a problem. However, asking for research for a novel as a first-time novelist is a bit different to approaching someone as a journalist for a profile or story. These are busy senior-professional people and I feel a bit cheeky asking for their private time for something they get nothing tangible out of. Of course, it doesn't help that one of the people whom I really want to approach is a lady I interviewed for a profile in the alumni magazine over summer who got messed around a bit (the piece I wrote was demoted from the print edition to online and the magazine staff lost a CD of some photos she sent to go with it). On the other hand, I'm a freelancer and none of it was my fault, and as a Director of Communications, she should hopefully be savvy enough to realise how magazines and the media work and not hold it against me. I was just wondering what other people's general views are on research and when it is or isn't appropriate?? I've already approached once but stupidly did it right before Christmas so am thinking of following up in the next few weeks as it probably will have gone over heads.