Note PROMOTION for 'Hot Basque'. 3rd, 4th and 5th February Click link below
IT CAME TO ME UNDER THE SHOWER
What inspires us to write? Is there a story-telling instinct, like the language instinct? I think so.
Many, like myself, remember listening to stories as a child, then starting to read. My father's bedtime story was his version of the 'The Odyssey'. It had everything: adventure, exoticism, thrilling characters. I was hooked.
As soon as I could write, I embarked on my fictional career with the adventures of a daring, dashing girl detective called Vicky. Vicky Dare. Usually, heading the star-studded cast of characters, was a faithful canine companion with a noble profile, an Alsatian, or a Lassie lookalike.
Starting to write fiction in later life, I chose romance. Born near Haworth, in Yorkshire's West Riding how could I not be influenced by 'those' sisters?
'Winds take a pensive tone, and stars a tender fire
And visions rise, and change, and kill me with desire.
Oh, they rose, Emily, they rose!'
What gets the creative juices flowing? For me it's a place or a setting. I was hugely impressed by Jessie Burton's novel, 'The Miniaturist', but don't think I could have found inspiration in that flat country with its ruler-straight canals and shuttered houses. I needed something more unrestrained, more passionate, with switchbacks.
The way in which Romantic writers blended the rhythms of the natural world with their unfolding emotional dramas fascinated me. I adored the moors, but on a school trip I fell in love with France. The pine-fringed beaches with their pounding surf, the azure sky, the perfumed breezes of the south. . . then there were the impossibly chic women sipping miniature black coffees beneath striped awnings, the sexy youths with flashing eyes and even more flashing gold chains. . . Odysseus himself could not have been more enchanted when hearing the song of the Sirens.
French Basque country, which I got to know well, struck me as the 'perfect' Romantic backdrop for a series of 'French Summer' novels. My characters could experience the highs and lows of falling in love as they wandered hand in hand on the beach, trying to ignore the storm clouds massing on the horizon. They could sip an aperitif and gaze into each other's eyes among the mirrors and palm trees of the Palace of Love in Biarritz, built by Napoleon III for his beloved Empress. A foreign setting also offered an opportunity to play with the theme of cultural differences. What happens when a non-French speaking, fiery Irish redhead falls in love with a non-English speaking hot Basque? Dialogue is such a vital part of character development and the potential for 'lost in translation' comedy was endless (I knew, because I'd often unwittingly caused French friends to fall off their chairs laughing).
Yours Truly with an aperitif in the Palace of Love
Some writers need music to get back to the zone, including their inspirational playlist in their books. I need a moat, a drawbridge and an ivory tower. When we moved to the countryside I got my dream study. One window looks over a patio full of flowers. If the lizards get too distracting, I sit on the side of the table, facing a wall of books. They give off a subtle air of reproach which usually works.
Charlotte Bronte thought authors did their best work while under 'an influence which becomes their master, which will have its own way. . . dictating certain words. . . whether vehement or measured in their nature. . . new-moulding characters. . . rejecting. . . old ideas, and suddenly creating and adopting new ones'. 'Can there be a great artist without poetry?' she added.
Whatever you think, Happy Writing, and thanks to Barbara for inviting me to share my thoughts on her blog.
Sat 3rd Feb, Sun 4th Feb, Mon 5th Feb