Wench Pat here, in scattered mode. The world has been intruding on my creative cave these past days, and any hope of concentration is shot. Currently, carpet installers are whamming nails into my bedroom floor, and the revision letter arrived for next summer’s historical, which is the mental equivalent of nails pounding in my head. So, of course, I’m writing this rather than think about anything.
Before the pounding began, I’d been distracted by research for the 2009 hsitorical Should I ever write the scenes, my characters may ultimately spend all of fifty pages on the southwest coast of England. But I need that sense of place before I can get started. I have visited Somerset and Devon once and only briefly. While I’m far more comfortable staying for a few days in an area where I set my books, it’s impractical given my tendency to give my characters freedom to travel the globe. I’d need a private yacht to keep up with them. And then there’s that invisible island in the Channel…
So I’ve been digging through my library for all the brochures and books and material I’ve accumulated. When I travel, I always grab up all those wonderful historical pamphlets that I can’t buy on Amazon, usually written by locals and almost always badly, but packed full of anecdotes and village history. If I’m really lucky, I’ll find small press books with photos and prints. In this case, my material is as sketchy as my plotting. So I’ve been heating up the internet in search of more.
Besides pamphlets, I need maps. I adore maps. Google Earth is the invention of gods. It certainly
doesn’t replace my physically standing on the coast, but at least it gives me a bird’s eye view of the countryside. I need to know if my characters are wading through mud or climbing cliffs, and then I have to figure how long it takes them to sail from the tip of Cornwall up close to Bristol or if they ought to be landing in the south and taking a coach north.
And then there are the houses! Houses are my all time favorite subject. I tell editors to just stick a house on my cover because one is bound to be the center of the story. Of course, with my itinerant invisible island people, this isn’t possible, but that doesn’t keep me from creating castles in my mind. And in this book, I get to give one of my characters a real English estate, and I want to drool over it. Which means lots and lots more books and research to determine what kind of building material might be used in the area, whether or not I can use an abbey or an old keep as the basis for the structure, whether it has fields of livestock or grain around it.
And in my research, I discovered Bradley Manor in Devon and fell in love. For my characters coming from the whitewashed stucco of a tropical island, it has to look far more welcoming than forbidding gray stone. I know my characters will be in Somerset, not Devon, but the materials aren’t that different. What do you think? Have I found them a home? Is anyone familiar with Somerset in the vicinity of the Parrett River? What are your impressions?
Out of curiosity, how many of you are as fascinated by houses as I am? Am I just a little OC or is this passion prevalent throughout romance-readerhood?