Blog – Irish trip & research
I wrote this blog before we left for research, but security issues being what they are, I’m going to be posting some of the blogs out of order. It’s a shame a few bad apples spoil things, but there it is.
I’m sitting in my office, just after dawn. The sky is still all light and shining with the blue color only now fighting its way through all that LIGHT! The air feels cool and calm, the day stretching ahead full of promise and possibilities, and yet . . . but . . . There’s always an, and yet, or a but, or so it seems of late.
We are supposed to be getting on a plane for Ireland today, yes you read that right. We are headed to the Emerald Isle. We’ll see you all in London in August, but we’re leaving early for research. The book I’m currently working on is mostly set in Ireland, and because I’ve never, ever been there I’d put off this story for years. Wait, I kept telling it, and it waited. Don’t push, I said, and it didn’t push. Other ideas pushed hard and fast and paid no attention to my orders, or my requests, or even my pleading with them, because they were ready to be born, so I wrote them as they clamored to be written. Story ideas for me are like baby birds in a nest, the loudest voice and tallest held mouth gets the worm, and will fledge first, but unlike real life where the tiniest nestling can starve and die while it’s bolder siblings thrive, ideas don’t die for me. They live, they wait, and they bide their time.
This book has found it’s time. It’s eager, excited, demanding to be written, and the damn thing is set in Ireland. It’s set in a specific part of the country that I have never seen or even read about before the book decided it was set mostly there. I’ve only had this happen once before and that was with my book, Obsidian Butterfly. It is set in New Mexico, which I’d never visited. My character, Edward, insisted that he lived in New Mexico. In fact he insisted he lived somewhere between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. I argued with him. “You’re a fictional character. I made you up. You cannot possibly live in a place that I’ve never seen or even read about. You’re part of me, how can you go some place I’ve never been?”
When I stepped off the plane in New Mexico and saw those low, black mountains, that desolate, near alien landscape, I said, “Well, son of a bitch, you do live here.”
I have no idea how Edward, alias U. S. Marshal Ted Forrester, decided he lived in a place I’d never seen or read much about. He’s always been a character that went off on his own, and then would come back and tell me what he was doing, and some of what he had done. He keeps his secrets, even from me. Which is a very peculiar feeling for a writer, since I’m supposed to be making him up as I go, but somehow he has enough life of his own that he tells me what he’s doing, and surprises the hell out of me, a lot.
I should have known that Edward would be in a book that was insisting on being set in a part of the world I had never seen. I can’t say I haven’t read much about Ireland, because I have been a serious lover of this section of the world for a long time. I’ve read the myths and folklore of Ireland, Scotland, England, and though I know they are part of England now, Cornwall, Wales, and almost every part of these myth-ridden islands. I was a serious Anglophile in my teens and dreamed of visiting all of it someday, though I don’t think I ever believed I’d manage it. Traveling to such far off places was for other people, not for girls living in the middle of farm country, raised below poverty level, so it turned out. I knew we didn’t have money, but I never felt poor in the sense that the word, “poverty”, makes me think. I never felt impoverished, I just knew we didn’t have money. I’m not sure anyone I ever knew as a young child ever traveled out of the country for anything except military service.
I’ve been to England twice. I’ve seen Rome and Milan in Italy. I’ve been to Paris and found it as romantic as advertised, which I didn’t think possible. Admittedly, I was with Jonathon and almost anywhere I go with him is romantic. But we both really enjoyed Paris and look forward to going back and taking Genevieve and Spike with us. I could live for a few months in Rome, or Paris, but strangely didn’t enjoy London all that much. What captured me in England was the countryside. Glastonbury, Avebury, and all the Salisbury Plain area spoke to our heart.
The closest we came to Ireland on that trip was seeing it from the air. I remember thinking, wow, it’s so green. This time we get to see all that verdant green in person. I’m so excited, and a little intimidated. First by the flight, because I’m terrified of flying, and second, by trying to write about a country I’ve never seen before. There’s always a pressure to get it right on paper. I’ve already started making contacts with people I need to help me with researching the book I’m writing, the book you’ll read next summer, and research in England for a book after that. Though both of these books are Anita Blake books, I’ve also had Merry Gentry whispering around in my head, or rather other characters from her books. Merry is silent, content with her new babies and trying to find happiness after grief. But her world is moving around in my head as I look over the books on Ireland that I used for research in her stories. This trip might make the Merry fans get the next story sooner, might, I don’t know yet. All I know for certain is the two books I am absolutely researching while I travel across the pond.