Thursday, May 2, 2019

Of Castles and Kludgies

CRAFT: When it comes to creating a sense of place in your work, how do you do it? (Research and real places? Invention and fictional ones?) What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t?
By Catriona
A sense of place - like California where I live or like Maryland where I am now after a long flight yesterday that sent this blog out of my head like thistledown? Sorry it's so late. Here goes:
I think I've covered all bases: a completely imaginary town - Drumlaw (Geddit (no one did at the time)), in Come To Harm

I had a map of the town with all the shops, houses, residents' names and roads to real places.  If I was at home I'd be able to add it here.

I've done a completely real place too: South Queensferry where I was born and where my parents still live. The best research experience of my writing life was wandering around arm-in-arm with my dad while he described what it looked like int he thirties when he was a child:

Wait, though: I've just remembered that I did make something up, sort of. I took the real Cardoness Castle from Galloway and dragged it north, to Cassilis, renaming it Cassilis Castle on the way. At the end of the book, on the Facts and Fictions page, I said as much. Unfortunately someone went looking for Cassilis Castle before she'd finished the book (and turned up at a library event in Queensferry hours later, sweaty, bedraggled and keen to speak to me).

I set As She Left It in my friend Diane's house in Headingly in Leeds, and started the story off with a missing child and a lot of concrete having been poured in through the window of her brick outhouse, so it reached halfway up the walls and the door didn't open.

Di reported that reading that book inside the house itself added a certain something. The jacket of ASLI gave me a good laugh once too. I was at the American Library Association winter meeting in Seattle (or maybe it was Book Expo America - it felt as if Temple Grandin might have had a hand in the set-up anyway) and a passing librarian/bookseller picked up my book:

and said, wearily" "Ugh. why does everything have to be set in dystopia these days?" She didn't stick around long enough for me to answer: "That's not dystopia; that's Britain." Tee-hee.

Rightio, not the nmost ind-depth blog post ever but it's after noon here in Bethesda and Malice calls.


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