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Leah's blog

Wednesday 2 August 2017

FAR FROM MY PLOTTING SHED

Plotting ShedVirginia Woolf said “Every woman should have a room of their own”. In my case it is a shed at the bottom of the garden currently in use as a winter rescue home for delicate plants. Be assured plans are afoot to clear out the debris to restore it once more to my writing room.

From here over the years I have travelled far a field; on a life boat watching the Titanic go down, to a remote Scottish island and the back streets of New York, to the mountains of Crete and the navvy camp at Ribblehead.

The Last PearlMy readers might recognize these locations from my novels. Each of these journeys of imagination come from that first idea of what story I will write next and where it will be set; perhaps a café in wartime Lichfield, the shores of the Mississippi or the outback of Australia. The possibilities are endless.

I can’t seem to stay too close to home in the village of Langcliffe but there are many Yorkshire  and Lancashire settings too. Often they are a starting point as in THE LAST PEARL  where a jewelry shop in York opens the story line.

My latest expedition takes a Yorkshire Quaker family, fleeing persecution to help found a colony in Pennsylvania in the 1690s: a journey of hardship and courage seen through the eyes of a young woman.

As with most of these imaginative explorations I do try and visit the exact spots where I think the story unfolds; the shores of Muscatine, Iowa, the lace city of San Sepolchro Italy, A synagogue in Chania, Crete where  I worked as a tour guide for several months. Some are too far to visit but with internet roaming I can Google myself onto the very streets of Adelaide or the cemetery in Halifax Nova Scotia where the Titanic victim were buried.

The researches I do are important and sometimes I find personal accounts of real people  which add depth to a character. Last month I visited a little museum in the US to learn more about the culture and customs of the Native Americans especially the tribe of the Lenni- Lenape who yielded land to the foreign colonists at a cost to themselves.

The Glovemaker's DaughterOnce a subject grabs me I have to follow where it leads. It involves lots of reading first before I visit the location. Now  that THE GLOVEMAKER'S DAUGHTER  is with the publisher where next?  Perhaps  wartime Vichy, France will  mean another  trip soon?

It’s on these visits I meet people who know far more than I do about my subject and give me useful anecdotes like the ex-fireman in Iowa who showed me  the  “dead man’s corner of the Mississipi” where the river gives up it's corpses…The Plotting Shed open door

 

 

So time for me to open up the shed where ideas are hatched, pour a glass of something sparkly, gaze over the hills and get cracking on novel 19. Wish me luck on my travels.

Helene Wiggin who writes as Leah Fleming  

 

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