You'll probably have seen the signs or the tee shirts - 'Be careful, or I'll put you in my novel'. I'd never do that - I'd be too afraid of possible consequences to make places and people recognisable. It all gets fed into the writer's mind though. And comes out eventually as a story. And writers are magpies - at least this one is - collectors of experiences, information, unconsidered trifles. You never know when they might come in handy. And then there are the questions - and sometimes the weird questions. At the moment I am looking for a friendly Italian lawyer to help with some details about inheritance law. That's for a WIP, but there are also the off the wall ones, that occur in the course of a day. Could you strangle someone with dental floss? Could you get DNA from a discarded contact lens? I discussed that one with my optician and he thought you probably could. If I ever want to use it, I'll need to check it though. Maybe it's just me?
You can turn anything into a fact finding mission - exhibitions, talks, courses. As regular readers know, I have an academic streak. I'm not going anywhere near formal qualifications again - the PhD cured me of that - but I do love a good course. At the moment I'm enjoying Welsh folklore. That will definitely be coming out in a future book, or books. Anything of a slightly spooky nature attracts, although I'd never write horror. I've done countless creative writing courses, and a forensic science one which was, and remains, very useful, although the science keeps moving on, and things have to be checked for the latest position. As I have mentioned, I'm currently resisting Egyptology. I've done foraging and baking classes, which will find their way into a book in due course.
It keeps life fun - well, my kind of fun, and it all creates possibilities for the books.
At the moment I'm doing a lot of reading on the Ligurian Riviera for the WIP. I've got some really good guide books and they are giving me ideas of things that I can include - little touches, like the kind of food I should be describing. A couple of weeks ago I did a post on themes and the way that I don't chose them, but they creep up on me. I've discovered that the WIP has justice and family/a sense of belonging as the themes. I'm also playing with the idea of Chinese Whispers - the way information becomes distorted as it is passed around. In this case it's about the last owner of my invented villa with the garden that is out of Sleeping Beauty. I'm having fun putting bits and pieces together that are sort of true, but which give a very different impression than the real story.
A Wedding on the Riviera is now available in audio, narrated by Dave Thorpe who did the narration for What Happens at Christmas.
A number of friends have invited me on to their blogs in the last few week to publicise the new book and I'm delighted to say that I'll be hosting some guest posts in return. First up is Jane Cable, with some interesting things to say about reality writing contests. More next week.