Wednesday 24 February 2016

Writers' Houses

When I saw this whiskey I
couldn't  resist it. I haven't
sampled it  - yet.
The idea for this post came to me when I realised that almost every room in my house has a container of some sort with pens and pencils in it. In the hall it's my 'Record Office' pencil case, full of very pointy pencils for taking notes in archives (Most of them won't allow a pen within striking distance.) That's in my 'Record Office' bag, by the way. OCD me?

You see a lot of posts and articles about 'Where I write.' talking about one room - but what about the whole house?

So - a tongue in cheek list of the things that might tell you that this is a writer's home.

Computer - these days you need one of those for manuscripts, communication, looking at pictures of kittens and other research. There may be more than one. Plus a smart phone, tablet, e-book reader. Writers do their bit for the technology industries. Some go for state of the art - all mine are oldies - but as long as they work ...

Stationery - now I am old-fashioned and write with pen and ink, well, ball point. But you will probably find post-it notes, envelopes, notebooks, paper clips, ring binders. An awful lot of authors have a bit of a habit when it comes to paper products in particular.

Feline/canine assistant. To interfere with production of manuscripts, to encourage exercise on a regular basis, to provided cute/amusing/heart-rending clips for social media.

Tea/coffee for opening of eyes in the morning

Chocolate - sustenance, reward, comfort when the hero stalks off in a huff and refuses to come back or yet another rejection letter drops through the letter box.

Alcohol - for celebration or consoling of sorrows.

I DID say it was tongue in cheek.

Wednesday 17 February 2016


I posted last year about my plan to make a scrap book of stuff that would be useful for future books. I have to say that I am very pleased that I did it. It is/is going to be, very useful. It stops all that hunting though piles of old notes to find that thing I remember seeing and was sure I'd written down - somewhere. And it's a lot of fun. I like having fun.

Difficult to misplace
I've been having a quick look through, to check on some of the bits and bobs all put away neatly in a Zebra striped Lever Arch folder in transparent pockets. Well, maybe not neatly, but put away.

There is all kinds of stuff - some I may never use, some is going to be of major significance - one or two have me scratching my head wondering 'What was I thinking?' Like the note I have on the back of a file card that says - 'Senior year for detective.' I have NO idea what that means. Actually that one was tucked in an old diary before I had the scrap book. I like to think that I would have been a little less gnomic and maybe added a picture to tell myself what I meant.

collecting cuttings
What have I got in there? Lots about art, especially the PreRaphaelites. There is going to be a lost pre Raph book, one day. And probably about art theft too. Or maybe the same book. Lots about my corner of Wales - flora, fauna, history. Myths and legends, because they interest me. Pictures of people who are, or might be, heroes and heroines. I don't model my H and Hs on actual people - some authors like to use actors - but I do have an idea about a certain kind of 'look'. I have a cutting about the new dinosaur found on Penarth beach - what I am going to do with that I have no idea, but I'd love to get it into a story somewhere. There are fliers for exhibitions and pictures of buildings and cars.

Surprising omissions? Not much on foreign locations and not much on food - but I'm sure I will rectify that at some stage.

All in all, an eclectic collection.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Armchair travelling

I have the guide books - and in some cases, the tee shirt.
There is not too much to be said for January and February, as I am not a fan of the winter months - but it does mark the return of the light - I hate dark evenings and mornings. And it also brings holiday brochures. To which I am addicted. I love 'em. They will keep me amused for hours. And at this time of the year there is barely a day goes by that something with pretty pictures and enticing promises does not drop through my letter box.

I haven't been able to do much travelling in the last few years, as I was caring for my mother and I can't start booking anything yet, as I am awaiting an operation that seems to be a long time coming, but I have high hopes for the end of the year. And next year, and the year after that ...

In the meantime, I can always look at the pictures. And make lists.

Of course a lot of the things on the list will be prospective locations for books, and a lot are as the result of reading other people's books. So what's currently on the wish list?

Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, in Italy. A part of Italy I have never visited. In particular I would like to see Monte Cassino, which was the site of major battles during World War Two. My research suggests that my father was there, but he rarely talked about his war experiences. I want to find out more and I also want to use it for a scene in a novel that I hope will one day see the light of day, rather than the dark of the back of my mind.

Florence - site of some of my favourite scenes in Never Coming Home, and just because.

The Classical Sites of Greece and the Greek Islands. The Marys Stewart and Renault are responsible for this one. But I expect I could manage to get a book out of it too.

Paris - another just because - but again, there has to be a book in it.

The Riviera. French or Italian or both. If I am going to have a series of 'Riviera romances' which I hope I will, then I'm going to have to visit for research, aren't I?

Berlin. Never been on my radar before, but since seeing the wonderful Bridge of Spies it's kind of crept up on me.

And of course any kind of cruise, where they change the scenery every day.

And the Orient Express ... Agatha Christie and Veronica Henry can take the blame for that one.

I think that is quite enough to fill up my holiday allowance for the next few years.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Just conversation

Writers are weird.

We're not as sweet as you think we are.
But you knew that already, right? I mean, who else do you know who washes up the breakfast dishes and then settles down to finish plotting a murder that they started the night before? And if the answer to that is not 'Only a writer.' then please do not introduce me to any of your friends.

As you can guess, I am having one of my periodic bouts of 'Where does all this stuff come from?' On Monday I was writing a conversation - yes, writing, don't faint, it may not last and the results might not actually go anywhere, but I was putting pen to paper.

Anyway - this conversation. Only a bread and butter thing, intended to pass on a little information in a way that wasn't an info dump. Matt, our hero, on leave on the Welsh coast, recovering from a nasty encounter with some very bad people, (Which has nothing to do with the current story. Or it doesn't at the moment - but who knows?) is talking on the phone to Zac, a colleague in London, asking him for information.

It could have gone just like this.
'Hi, this is Matt, can you send me all you have on XXX'
'No problem. I'll get on it now. Take care.'

Nothing wrong with that. But these two are colleagues, working for an off the grid organisation that rights wrongs and generally does heroic stuff and in the past they have been through various circles of hell together, so naturally they started to spark off each other - jibes, insults, jokes. And Zac would never, ever, in two million years, tell Matt to take care, although you and I know he thinks it. Matt might tell Zac, which shows the difference between them.

So there I am, eavesdropping on these two hot guys. I hope they are hot. I think they are. And at the moment, I'm the only one who has a say. (Hold on - Emma, the heroine, says she thinks Matt is hot too, but complicated. And she doesn't even know yet what he does for a living!) Thank you, Emma, for your input.

And while all this was going down on the paper, I realised how clearly both their personalities were coming through, the contrast between them, and in particular how that reflects on the relationship Zac will have with his heroine, Alice, when he finally gets his own book.

And all that was lurking inside my head.

Writers are weird.