I have a desire (Upon reading Cold Mountain) to start writing a new story. The trouble is, I both have no idea where to start and don't know if I have an extensive enough knowledge on things to write competently. The setting I have chosen is a near-future world where civilization as we know it collapsed, left a short state of chaos, but small city-states and nation-states emerged from this chaos. In essence, a step back from our over consuming electricity world to a more modest one that echoes the years of the 19th century. Looking at how Charles Frazier wrote Cold Mountain I am daunted by the prospects of writing such a book, for it would require (For my characters to truly come to life) an extensive knowledge on the nature of North America, such as the avian species, how river currents flow, and where certain plants grow to how societies may evolve in the event of such a collapse. Needless to say I may need to do a lot of research before I can make my characters truly come to life. So my question is: should I simply go ahead and start writing, or spend time researching different things? Is this the kind of novel that requires life experience and the collected knowledge of years? And any other advise would be welcomed. I feel the story within me, however vague it may be, and I suppose I might just be searching for the reassurance of others.