Friday, May 30, 2008

Research for writers - from Walton Castle to Monaco

I took a break away from the university recently - just five days, a long weekend, so where's that get you as a writer in the 'academy'?
Well around around Europe for a start. First stop was Walton Castle in Somerset, hired for her husband's birthday by an actor friend. It was my first castle house party ... staying in one of the battlement towers, splashing around in the indoor pool, dining most finely (mmm for venison carpaccio) with walks along the seashore to the Victorian Clevedon Pier, chatting about films mostly (most likely when you're with film actors, composers and directors). So as drink flows and talk grows more wild, it all goes down to 'research'. I've got a fresh venue, insider gossip, lots of toilet tales, a whole welter of stuff for future fiction.
Then it was on to Monaco - standing by the yachts at Cap Ferrat on the Saturday afternoon, I reminded James that we'd been strolling the wet sands at Weston Super Mare just the day before. The Riviera has a whole host of resorts in a tiny area. We were visiting new friends, and conversation ranged across many venues ... Jean Cocteau's painted temple, mountain villages, the palace of Monte Carlo, and several circuits of the Grand Prix track (we were entering race week).
Of late I've been going to familiar places - our place in France, up and down between Plymouth and London. But then of course that Plymouth London run is still fresh for me ... and a very recent story was set in those very locations, with a boat trip out across my daily view out over the waters of Plymouth Sound.
My writing had always been fuelled by places I've visited. I've always learned from conversations I've overheard. This all reminds me to get out more!


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