Paula Martin a dear blogger friend asked me if she could have a guest post on my blog and I immediately said YES! Well I wrote it :) Anyway here she is and I must say I read it all with much interest!
In the 1960’s, some scenes for a major British film were shot in my home town, and we watched some of the filming one evening. When the film was shown at the local cinema the following year, of course we went to see it. In one scene, a bus pulled up outside the Town Hall. You could sense the reaction all over the cinema, with people muttering, ‘Buses don’t stop there.’ In that split second, the illusion was lost as people with a personal knowledge of the location were distracted by an inaccuracy.
A minor detail, I know, but it has stayed with me, over 50 years later. I’ve read similar inaccuracies in books. As a result, I’m very wary about making basic errors like this when I’m writing about a place I don’t know.
My latest novel, ‘Irish Inheritance’, is, as the title suggests, set mainly in Ireland. I’ve been to Ireland many times since I first fell in love with the country, its history, its scenery, and its people. But I’m not Irish, and my hero and heroine aren’t Irish either. He’s American and she’s English, so I showed Ireland from their perspective, rather than from a native Irish point of view. In that sense, I’ve been able to describe places as I’ve seen them i.e. as a visitor, not a resident.
I prefer to use places that I know, or at least areas I’ve visited. Sometimes I name the actual locations e.g. Dublin, Galway, Clifden,etc, and my hero and heroine visited several places where I have been, such as Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Wicklow Mountains.
In other novels, I’ve invented a name for a town or village, even though I’m picturing a real place. This allows me to take some liberties with the layout of an area, and in one story I ‘moved’ a village into a different valley!
I have used locations that I don’t know in a couple of my novels (but only as a secondary location, not the main one). For these I was dependent on internet resources, especially travel guides, maps, videos, and photographs. Google street view is also invaluable for ‘exploring’ a town, ‘seeing’ the view from a particular place, and even finding a supermarket, as I did for one heroine to do her shopping!
I admire authors who can set a whole novel in a place they’ve never even visited, but I’d be too worried about getting something drastically wrong about the location. The internet can provide a lot of information, but can it tell me what it’s like to LIVE in a Greek village, or a small town in mid-West America, or a farmhouse in Tuscany? Can the internet give me the atmosphere of a place?
In a word, can it show me where buses stop? I’m too aware of readers who might say, ‘Buses don’t stop there.’ Inaccurate location details annoy me – and I don’t want to annoy my readers!
Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/KtlU6Y
‘Irish Inheritance’ – to be released in February, 2014
They soon unravel an intriguing tale of a nineteenth century love affair. At the same time, their mutual attraction grows, despite personal reasons for not wanting romantic involvements at this point in their lives.
A local property agent appears to have her own agenda concerning the house while other events pull Jenna and Guy back to separate lives in London and America. Friction builds over their decision about the house and its contents.
Will their Irish inheritance eventually drive them apart — or bring them together?