There's nothing wrong with the present day. I like living in it very much. But writing in it? Not for me. I love to write about the past. I love to imagine how things were. I'm only vaguely interested in the stuff we're taught at school - Kings, Queens, politicians, famous people - although I confess to something of a passion for Charles II. What interests me most about the past are the lives of ordinary people. Where they lived. How they lived. To me, the filthy grime of the city slums and the characters within it are infinitely more fascinating than a stately home stuffed full of Lords and Ladies.
I'm lucky enough to live in London where you can still find Fagin-style tenements, Jack the Ripper streets, and airy atmospheric centuries-old markets. A writer can find inspiration anywhere but by walking the streets of a city, you can transport yourself back in time and really imagine what it would have been like way back when. In London there are writing prompts all over the place: The Pleasure Gardens at the Museum of London, a model of old London Bridge at the Docklands Museum, and a wonderful history of medicine at the Science Museum. On a recent hospital stay at St Thomas', I even found a glass case full of old apothecary jars and scales that were identical to the ones I describe in my novel.
The internet is a fantastic place for research, but nothing beats the real thing, real buildings, real objects. The only thing to remember is to always take a camera and a notebook with you!