Used to be when I took a weekend away somewhere I did it just to – well – have a weekend away somewhere. But not anymore. Now I’m taking pictures of things around me with a view to using them in a story, I’m looking at places where imaginary characters could live or work, I’m seeing parks where they could have walked, cafes were they might have had coffee… And I’m seeing them there and wondering what they would say or do and what their lives are like.
But then I think I did that before I even became a writer.
Maybe that’s the thing with people who write – we don’t just look at a place and see that place. Or watch two people talk and just leave it at face value. Our imaginations are always on the go and we’re always curious about people; what they’re talking about, their lives, their problems, whether or not they're alone in the world. From time to time we may even eavesdrop to try and found out...
With friends on a night out (too many years ago for me to confess to), we sometimes played a game where we would pick a couple in the crowd and build a whole life for them - we'd give them a profession and a name and a personality and we would talk when they talked – making up conversations for them (quite often with dumb accents and much hilarity) – and do you know what? I think that was writer training too.
So now, every place I visit become a research trip. I might never use a particular place or setting in the end, but if I ever need it I know it’s there , stored deep in my brain. Like when I visited Dublin recently for the book launch of fellow Irish Writer Abby Green’s first book. I mean, I’ve used Dublin as a setting dozens of times – but truth be told I’ve always shied away from finer details and exact place names. All it took was a weekend refresher visit and it occurred to me that I was missing out on a lot by not adding that particular layer in.
So I put on my nice new trainers and took my Christmas Present camera and off I went a wandering. I found a house for my heroine to live in, a park for her to sit in, a busy shopping street near Trinity College where she could have worked. I took random pictures of the streets full of people that she might have seen every day, the local landmarks she would have walked past to get to work – I even took my camera and a pen and paper onto one of the open top bus tours so that I could take notes from the bus drivers hilarious running commentary…
And while I travelled back to my hotel on one of the City’s shiny new Tram’s (which give the place a lovely European City feel) I imagined that I was the heroine – I was breathing the air that she would breathe, seeing the people she would see and simply *being* in the city she would be in. Which made it all the more real to me, and I have to believe that can only be a good thing for my writing, right?
Maybe sometimes we do need to just leave the keyboard behind and walk out in the real world so that we can come back and create a more realistic imaginary world?
But what it does mean is that everything is now research for me….
I wonder if I’m the only one that thinks that way…?
H’s & K’s
Trish’s next release is a Modern Extra entitled Breathless! out in February:
Just one night would take her breath away!
Rory Flanaghan is every girl's dream: tall, toned and so, so sexy. On leave from his dangerous overseas job, he's helping out at the gym he owns. When writer Cara Sheehan starts one-to-one sessions with Rory, exercise takes on a whole new meaning. He leaves her with a sensual awareness she's never let herself feel before...
Rory can't understand why this beautiful, fiesty woman has a problem with her image, and he knows he can teach Cara what she's capable of... As things get really personal, Rory shows Cara that just one kiss, just one touch...just one night... will leave her breathless!