So that is me set for the night... who is the only man for you?
Come back on Sunday to hear from Susanna
The great thing about London is that it’s full of gems, hidden away places that are as much a surprise as a delight when you come across them. The Cafe in the Crypt underneath the church of St Martin in the Fields (next to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery) is one such. I’d never been before, but when I went there yesterday I was fascinated and my imagination started working overtime.
It would definitely make a great setting for a story. The low vaulted ceiling alone is amazing (quite apart from the craftsmanship that must have gone into building it!) and it immediately makes you think of dungeons and dark deeds. The echoing of people’s voices off the thick stone walls has you wondering what they’ve witnessed over the years – grief and despair mostly, I guess, but I didn’t get a feeling of sadness the way you do in some buildings. Rather, it was comforting, as if the souls that had passed through were at peace there.
It was a bit surreal to be eating lunch while sitting on top of someone’s grave though. The floor was almost entirely made up of slabs with names of the deceased carved into them. One stood out and really intrigued me – it was for a Mr Andries Baron and had a skull and cross-bones motif at the top. A buried pirate? Or was that just the latest fashion in gravestones in 1777?
I kind of believe in fate and I’m beginning to think it’s trying to tell me I should be writing a Gothic tale of some sort. Not long ago, I was at Rochdale Town Hall, which has the most amazing interior complete with indoor gargoyles. In my imagination, that turned easily into a Gothic mansion. And there are more gargoyles watching me from the roof of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, which I pass quite frequently. It’s as if they’re ready to jump down as soon as it gets dark. Then recently, I stumbled across a narrow alleyway, the kind you feel is closing in on you ...
I’m giving myself the shivers here, so maybe I should go back to writing the lovely, sunny historical romance I’m working on. Because I don’t write Gothic stuff, not really, but maybe one day soon I will be going back to the crypt ... (and how’s that for a spooky ending?)
Please come back on Sunday to hear from Liz!
|Liz Fenwick and Michael Portillo|
We’ve discussed leading ladies before on this blog, and I think we agreed that we all put a lot of ourselves into our heroines. In fact, most of the time we ARE the heroine, just in disguise. This means, of course, that they take on a lot of our own likes, dislikes and idiosyncracies.
This is certainly true for me. For example, I hate the colours beige and brown, so would never make my heroines wear it. I don’t like sausages, therefore my heroines don’t either. I love long hair – whenever possible I let my heroines have abundant tresses. I love animals, so my heroines do too. And so on and so forth.
There is one way in which we differ fundamentally, however – I’m a chicken, they’re not. In real life I’d probably rather run away than get involved in a fight, would faint in horror if I saw a ghost or was confronted with anything paranormal, and I doubt I could save anyone’s life except if they were drowning (I love swimming). But my heroines can’t be like that – they have to be feisty, capable and stand up for themselves. They have to be courageous and self-sacrificing, ready to take risks in order to get what they want. That’s definitely not me.
But on the other hand, it’s the “me” I’d like to be.
I’m sure we all dream of doing things we’ve never dared to – whether it’s skydiving, bungee jumping or just travelling the world. I do wish I’d been born braver, but because I’m not, it’s even more satisfying to be able to make my alter ego courageous. I know some authors do go out and try all the things they write about, but I content myself with living vicariously, through my imagination. Perhaps it’s not as satisfying as doing something yourself, but I think it’s enough for me. Or is it?
I recently read a novel where the heroine drew up a list of ten things she’d like to do before she died and then acted on it (Swimming with Dolphins by Deborah Wright). This made me wonder what I’d put on mine and whether I’d be able to tick any of them off. The list was supposed to be secret and some of the items on it may not be at all feasible, but it’s quite a fun exercise. Mine isn’t complete yet, so I’ll have to keep working on it. I definitely know I want to go to Pompei and Herculaneum, so that’s item no.1 (and I don’t think I need to keep that a secret), and I would love to swim with dolphins, even if that’s a bit clichéd, but I’m not sure what else.
How about you – what would you definitely want to do before it’s too late? Or how far would you go in the name of research?
Please come back on Thursday to hear from Liz!
|Susanna: I'm bringing margaritas for everyone, because they're my favourite summertime drink. One sip of lime and tequila with salt, and the whole world slows down and seems instantly sunnier.|
And my date for the party will be Dennis Quaid, because look, he's brought his own surfboard, and at 57 (nearly 58) he's reassuring proof that not all of the men I found hot in my youth have been falling apart as they age. He still has the same abs!
Pia: I'm bringing pickled herring canapes, Swedish style - Swedes always eat pickled herring and especially during the summer, so I thought it might be apt. I'll bring some "snaps" (Swedish way of saying schnapps) too, as the two go together, then we can all get pickled I guess! :)
Character who surprised you the most: I was constantly surprised and delighted by Leo Allingham, who is Alice's ex-husband in real life. He's a bit of a shady character at first but he has such depths to him, and such pain. And he rides a motorcycle.