I'll admit it, in our house, every day is Halloween...
Here's the acoustic version of Ministry's "Every day is Halloween".
Ministry is one of my all-time favourite bands...
When I write my novels, I have a whole movie in my head. I can "see" the locations, the settings, the people. I have a extremely precise idea of what my characters should look like - I'd be a nightmare to deal with if someone wanted to turn one of my books into a film or TV series...
The other day, I was researching some images for one of the main characters in The Right Place, Katharine "Kat" Moorhouse, and I stumbled across pictures of a young woman who looked exactly as Kat would look 6 years on from the action of the book. In the novel, Kat is 14, and I guess this young lady must be around 20...
So here she is: Kat at 20...
Please accept my apologies for the watermarks...
As we are slowly entering a particularly challenging and dark winter, I find myself turning even more than usual to books, music, writing and the Dorset landscape. You wouldn't believe the size of my "books to buy" list.
The week ahead is looking particularly wet and windy, and I intend on concentrating on my work-in-progress The Right Place; I am also finding myself more and more involved in the planning of my fourth novel, the vintage-tinged detective/supernatural story Hell Lane: a Barton Stacey mystery.
We managed to escape the rain yesterday for a couple of hours, and we found a new starting point for some forthcoming winter walks relatively close to our house; the well-established walking routes of the Jubilee Trail and the South Dorset Ridgeway cross paths at this point. There's plenty to explore on the edges of Weymouth, and I will of course post about those wintery excursions on here.
Yesterday, our walk took us along the Dorchester-Weymouth relief road which was built in 2012 for the Olympics.
It is already proving to be a problem as traffic is heavy most of the time, and as the population of both towns grows, the local authorities' woeful lack of planning comes to light.
The relief road cuts deep into the ancestral landscape which keeps on inspiring me and giving me some kind of perspective on the current national and international situation; the echoes of the county's ancient past are all around us as we walk its old ways. The Dorset countryside is sprinkled with Iron Age forts, tumuli, heritage buildings, ruins and patches of land scorched by the violent struggles of the previous centuries.
We found ourselves standing at the site of the Ridgeway Hill Burial, where the heads and bodies of 51 decapitated Vikings were found in 2009 during the construction of the relief road; it did send shivers down our spine...
A surprisingly bright wildflower meadow has sprung up here on the Ridgeway!
This summer, I discovered a wonderful little corner of the Dorset countryside just above my favourite place (and the location of my third novel and work-in-progress, The Right Place. Where is this? Find out HERE).
You can park easily for walks, there are green slopes and strip lynchets, coppices, and a wonderful view over the coast, Chesil Beach and Portland.
I love this little corner so much that I have chosen it for my experiment: to take a picture of the same place every month to report on the passing of the seasons on the Dorset countryside.
I am now exactly at the time my third novel starts: early October, going into November and moving beyond the New Year.
I don't have a precise or ultimate schedule for the action - I'll just let the story carry me wherever it wants to.
I have now passed the 29,000 words mark on my first draft, but the worries and uncertainty of Real Life still have too strong a grip on me to allow me to dedicate myself 100% to my book.
I still dream of hitting my deadline of 31st December for Draft 1, but it now seems very unlikely.
I will do my best in the circumstances...
Saturday was the perfect day for a quick walk on the South Dorset Ridgeway.
Walking there last week, the lyrics of High, the song by New Model Army, came to mind.
They are all the more relevant at present.
Walking on the Ridgeway on Saturday, with the sun shining over the sea and the cliffs of the Jurassic coast, I was reminded of the lyrics of High, the beautiful song by New Model Army.
They are all the more relevant at present.
The movers move, the shakers shake,
Another one of our favourite places in Dorset is Tyneham Village (which was evacuated during the Second World War and taken over by the army - it is quite a sad story...), with the beautiful Worbarrow Bay just a few minutes' walk away, and access to the wonderful range walks all around.
It was a little bit too busy for my taste yesterday (Dorset seems to still be unusually busy for this time of year in a pandemic) but we still managed to enjoy the breath-taking views from Flower's Barrow.
I need to get out in the countryside more than ever as the future looks increasingly uncertain.
I will not hit my deadline of 31st December for the completion of Draft 1 of The Right Place, unfortunately, as I've had to re-adjust to the "new reality", and once again have to consider getting a "long-term" job, which is not ideal - but this virus and the looming shadow of Brexit have massively undermined our plans.
I am still waiting to know what the state of play will be in January/February before I commit to the Arcane Online Bookshop.
So it's really a game of wait and see (and try not to despair!).
Things are busy at the Arcane/ArtPix towers as we keep an eye on our unit at The Customs House in West Bay and try to plan for the next very uncertain months. We have a lot of projects and plans but are delaying them because of the virus and Brexit.
We are also trying to go out for a walk once or twice a week to try and explore some corners of Dorset we do not know (or to go back to our favourite spots.)
Yesterday, we paid a visit to another gorgeous location full of history and atmosphere: Wynford Eagle.
It is a gentle and very quiet hamlet mainly made of a row of beautiful old terrace houses, a small manor house and a big farm. It is almost eerily empty, bar a few parked cars and a rush of vehicles at rush hour (Maiden Newton and its train station is just a few miles away).
The Manor House was the birthplace of an important individual: Thomas Sydenham, a famous 17th century physician, nicknamed "The English Hippocrates".
We hope to go back later in the autumn for more walks in the area!
I am now going to take a break from the websites to concentrate on writing The Right Place... Unfortunately, I am behind schedule and might be running out of time to meet my deadline of draft 1 completed by 31st December.
23,885 words so far and so many to go (The Book of Thoth was over 100,000!)
I will post an update at the end of next week to report on my progress.
The church of St Laurence, below, has a rare feature called a tympanum dated from c.1100 ("the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, door or window, which is bounded by a lintel and an arch. It often contains sculpture or other imagery or ornaments." (wikipedia)
The fields full of rapeseed made us feel like we were picking things up as we left them last April as the lockdown brought the country to a standstill: the bright yellow flowers and the strong smell are a feature of spring... The hot September sun enables farmers to have another crop, maybe? (It was incredibly hot yesterday...)
Matt ArtPix went to sell at a car boot sale at the weekend and came back with a little present for me: three "Gaston Lagaffe" comic books.
I don't do nostalgia but I have to admit that I grew up with these comics: my parents have all of the them at home.
So I had a reading binge yesterday - It really is cute!
But it's not only cute and funny: behind the silliness, the comics tackle quite a few serious issues.
Lagaffe is a dreamer and catastrophe-prone inventor who doesn't fit in the office culture.
He is his own man and anti-authority, gentle and naive, but reading these comics published in the late 70s/early 80s, I have found quite a few things which would make this sweet character very popular nowadays...
Oh, and he loves his pets: a crazy cat, an even crazier laughing seagull and a goldfish who dreams of freedom.
I have a thing for iron gates...
In my second novel, The Book of Thoth, the wrought iron entrance gates of the Whitemoor Hall estate are very ornate and feature a sun and a moon...
The eerie gates below are on the Kingston Lacy estate in Dorset. We had a walk around the boundaries of the estate yesterday and passed the wonderful Kitchen Garden. When we visited the house several years ago, our visit was interrupted by the rain and we had promised ourselves to go back and have another go at the gardens, which are fantastic. Incidentally, Kingston lacy has inspired a few aspects of my third novel The Right Place!
I am making slow progress on The Right Place, finally reaching 20,000 words a few days ago.
If I had been as productive as I'd wanted to be during the past five months of lockdown/coronavirus crisis, I probably would have finished the first draft by the end of the this month. Alas! It was not to be...
I still intend on sticking to my new schedule of completing the first draft by 31st December.
Over the next few weeks, I will go out and find inspiration in the county of Dorset...
I have a busy weekend planned, so might have something to post about by Monday!
The pictures illustrating this post were taken yesterday in Portesham, a village we've driven through so many times on our way to Bridport or the Hardy monument or further afield that we have lost count.
But we had never really stopped there, and yesterday, we had a good look around the village (especially to look at The Old Vicarage which was for sale until recently - we quite fancied it, you see, because it was exactly as we imagine our dream house to be - i.e not ruined/modernised inside - but as it came with a price tag of £600,000...)
The house in the picture is Grade II listed Trafalgar House - and it is sadly in a sorry state. It always makes me so cross when houses are just left to rot. Most certainly, it would be better for someone to be allowed to save it from imminent ruin?
I am not a writer who plans my novels to the very last punctuation mark...
As I haven't done the "MA in creative writing" that now seems to be near-obligatory to get published (don't even get me started on that), I do not have any "method" and I feel completely free to do things exactly the way I like.
And that freedom is essential to me and is what makes the writing process rather thrilling (apart from when I have complete writer's block as has been the case for most of lockdown and the weeks beyond... I have just found my writing mojo again.) The only issue with this is that I can go on a tangent whilst writing the first draft and make everything more complicated for me.
I've lately done just that, making a minor character who was not supposed to appear again in the novel the core protagonist in a scene which was never going to happen until about a week or so ago. Just as if things were not complicated enough in The Right Place, I've decided to have a major scene featuring music, art and intrigue on a particular night of the year - with all its symbolism and logistical conundrums. And I have just named a band "Veasta", the name of the Portland sea-monster whose sightings have spread across the centuries...
I have no idea whether I'll put this off or not.
But it's exciting!
I think therefore I write.
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