Tracy Chevalier's talk at the National Portrait Gallery was rather fascinating. The author explained how she found inspiration in visual works of art for most of her novels: the French tapestries for the Lady and the Unicorn, William Blake's work - Blake appears as a character in my personal favourite Burning Bright - I took my copy of the book to get signed by Tracy!, Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring, the haunting splendour of the vaults in Highgate Cemetery for Fallen Angels, American quilts for her work in progress...
Of course, she talked about Imagined Lives and explained the process she went through to write her two very short stories for the exhibition.
Tracy Chevalier speaks well about her working methods and has a burning passion for art and writing. I could have sat there for hours, just listening to her. I have read all her books, and all of them are different, but written with the same attention to detail and love for her craft.
I myself am a very visual writer, as you can see from the images in The Book of Thoth section of this website. My first novel, I Am a Muse, is about a painter and his muse, and every detail of the book is still vivid in my mind.
Most scenes start as a movie in my head and find their way - not always easily - to the page.
Hearing an experienced writer like Ms Chevalier talk about the difficulties of transcribing the images in your head into words on the page felt really familiar to me. Writing is such a fascinating craft, a slow burning, all-encompassing one...
And I am still just an apprentice, even though I have been writing since the age of 5...
It was a real privilege to be there.
I think therefore I write.
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