Welcome to my blog!

Why Jacaranda you ask? In case you are reading this the other side of the world and are not sure, Jacaranda is the name of a beautiful tree, which blooms around Oct/Nov, mostly in the Eastern states of Australia. Its flowers are the most exquisite shade of blue-purple, the nearest comparison probably being hyacinth blue, so who could not be inspired to write by such a spiritual colour? When the jacarandas start to blossom, you know it's exam time, but you also know that Christmas is just around the corner. It is said that if a jacaranda flower falls on your head as you walk underneath a tree, good fortune is sure to follow, so guess who did a lot of walking under jacaranda trees! Watch this space for changing images of this lovely tree!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The importance of on-location research

Warning – This posting contains a plot spoiler!

As part of my MA in Professional Writing I have been undertaking research for the novel I am attempting to write. Some of this has concentrated on what I call 'on-location research', i.e. visiting an unfamiliar place to get the look and feel of it.

This type of research activity not only accords with my love of travelling to places unknown and talking to people, but was also heavily influenced by John Le Carré speaking on a YouTube promo video about his most recent book A Man Most Wanted. Le Carré mentions that he travelled to Hamburg and sat in the armchair in the foyer of the Hotel Atlantic, where one of the main characters in his book, Tommy Brue, the 60-year-old Scottish director of a private bank, would have sat when waiting to meet the young German human rights lawyer Annabel Richter. Le Carré also went to the offices of Fluchtpunkt to check the veracity of his tale of an asylum seeker.

Notwithstanding this, it was not until I recently viewed the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, that I fully appreciated the importance of this type of research. Warning: If you have not yet seen the film or read the book upon which it is based, don’t read on!

For those of you who have seen the film, you may remember there is a scene towards the end of the film in which Mikael Blomkvist visits Australia to trace the long-lost granddaughter of Henrik Vanger, the aged former CEO of the Vanger companies. Blomkvist finds her herding sheep in a remote gulley. Everyone, but everyone, (including me - an ex-pat Brit!) in the Sydney cinema where I saw the film said “That’s not Australia!” And indeed it wasn’t as this scene would appear to have been filmed in Spain.

The moral of this story is obvious – don’t fake it until you make it – but go there!