One of the best parts about being a writer is learning how to translate all five senses into a story that other people can feel as though they too have travelled there.
I wrote my first book without having ever visited England, to which I was often asked, how were you able to create a story in a setting where you had never once visited?
For starters, I grew up in the Monterey Bay Area and was often told by friends and family who had been to the U.K. that Carmel/Monterey/Big Sur reminded them a lot of England. Those overcast skies, misty mornings, and cobble homes were familiar to me (no wonder I felt like I had returned home when I did visit England just a month ago!)
Of course, Monterey and England are two VERY different places, so I painted my words in my historical fiction books through A LOT of research, and watching/re-watching of documentaries/various films.
So, upon my departure for England in September, I had already written my second book and had the first proof paper copy with me, it having already undergone four months of editing. The trip to England merely put the finishing touches on it all! After getting to visit all of the places in my book and drawing inspiration from these visits, I spent over twelve hours on my plane ride home and the weeks after re-writing and editing the manuscript. And, now, it has been officially returned from my professional editor!
(Side Note: Thank you to those of you who endured all the errors in my first book, it was a huge learning experience! I’m very thankful to have a paid editor this time around.)
To walk through the streets of Oxford and London where A Song for Somme takes place was the most surreal experience on my trip to the U.K. There were moments (call me crazy) where I could literally hear the voices of my characters as I saw, felt and experienced the world from which they had come from.
Well, now that you have a little insight into the writing process, I thought I would share some quotes from A Song for Somme with photos that I took at the exact locations set in the book. Enjoy!
“We walked past the River Cherwell where a plethora of voices could be heard through the trees. While the tulips were yet to bloom, the streets were adorned in a mass of shrubbery. It was what I loved most about Oxford; how the trees and ivory waterfalls isolated the colleges from the rest of the universe. Strolling through its magical streets, Oxford made me often forget that life in London had ever existed.”
“Although I had returned to Oxford, there was discontentment found in its cracks, a howling for the days before the war, of feed that trod upon their boards which no longer walked this earth.”
“A light rain greeted the cobbled streets, and I remarked that there was nothing like a February day without a refreshing rain to ease us into spring. The church’s bells echoed through the streets, indicating the top of the hour. Taking her hand, we ran through the underbrush of the trees and made our way past St. Adale’s towards the Eagle and Child. It was only a light mist, nothing that we weren’t used to. It took us no more than ten minutes before the familiar sight of Eagle and Child’s sign greeted us.”
“We returned to the hotel, the door to the dining hall slightly ajar. It was now entirely empty after Charles and the American Trio had finished their final round of songs. Taking a deep breath, I gazed at the elaborate embellishments in the ceiling above, the sculpted white flowers encompassing a breath-taking painting of kaleidoscopic wonder. The grand white fireplace in the hotel’s lobby was warmly lit of which the gold walls seemed to dance to its soft light in memory of the music that just moments before had fled its halls. All that remained were a few waiters who cleaned up the aftermath of the extravagant evening, like washed-up cargo after a treacherous storm at sea.”
“When she left the room, I glanced about the seating parlour. It was filled with books and only one painting on the east wall, though a beautiful painting it was. As I stared at the painting, I realised that the ocean’s unrealistic turquoise blues had been painted by Lindsay herself. It was of the Cornwall coast, a masterful representation captured better than the human eye.”
“She had awakened the music inside of me. Her folklore voice rang in the back of my mind, the sweetness so pure, almost as though it belonged to an entirely different world, a world that I had never had the privilege of entering into. That is what the music did for me, for it had begun to take on a new voice within myself, a voice that belonged to a different world almost.”
That’s all for now, friends! Cheers until next time.