I’ve been thinking a lot about books and what I like about them over the summer as we visited York, the Lake District and Northumberland in the campervan, which gave us time for relaxing and reading
And it came to me, one cold, wet, windy evening in a field near Keswick , that what I like most about reading is being taken somewhere else.
The most vivid example of this I can remember was over 20 years ago when I was on holiday in Turkey. Picture the scene, similar to the one above; I’m sitting in thirty degrees of sunshine, beside the pool, I’ve got a cup of apple tea in one hand and a book in the other. But one of my clearest memories of that holiday isn’t the pool, but what I read. I was reading “The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx and I spent a couple of days of my Turkish holiday mentally in Newfoundland. Which, in my imagination, was somewhat colder than Turkey, but just as memorable.
Then I thought about my own writing. The first thing I do is always create a setting for my characters – as yet I haven’t used any real places though. I’ve created fishing villages, stately homes and now I’m working on a Lake District valley. Each new place has to have its own architecture, geography, history. It has to have the right name, and I have to create a map or a plan. Once I’ve got the place right, the rest follows.
So I thought it made sense to spend a bit of time thinking about places in fiction, real places and imagined places in my own fiction and that written by other people. I’ll be writing some posts about places that have inspired me, some posts about places in my own novels and reviewing some novels by my favourite writers which have a strong sense of place of their own. I might even ask some of my writing friends to tell me about the places where they set their novels.
And who knows where else “Big Blue” might take my imagination?