Sunday, August 19, 2012

Image Versus Imagination

At the start of my current work in progress, Spirit, I had a bright idea. Instead of just gathering together photographs and objects on my desk to inspire me, I’d create a Pinterest board. Then everyone could see what was in my mind while I was developing the story, and I wouldn’t amass a load of what my OH calls "rubbish". It’s a big ask to expect a virtual collection to reduce the amount of clutter on my desk, but I live in hope!
Setting up an account with Pinterest was the easy part, although there are so many Pinners sharing my name, I’ve had to register as HollisRomance. Then I began browsing, and my problems started. Be warned - looking through other people’s collections is highly addictive. It’s a wonderful way to lose track of hours of working time. It’s easy enough to get distracted by other entries when looking up a word in a dictionary, or researching in the library. Pinterest has the added snares of beautiful images, which makes it ten times harder to resist. It could well be another example of technology making life easier in some ways, but more challenging in others. It will take all the legwork out of things like house makeovers, for one thing. Instead of traipsing around town gathering swatches and paint charts, images of everything can be collected together, compared and contrasted at the click of a mouse. If you are looking for inspiration for that next holiday, there are pictures and mementoes on display from just about everywhere. You can check them all out from the comfort of your chair. Want to see how the other half lives? Clicking through the thousands of pages on offer is a wonderful way to see the Harlequin Presents way of life in living colour. 
There’s no doubt Pinterest is an amazing visual tool, although when it came to making up my own board I hit a big snag. I had very definite ideas in mind for Spirit. The major plot revolves around a beautiful necklace. As this exists only in my mind, not surprisingly it’s been impossible to find a suitable image to post. And another thing - everyone who sees the “Brackenridge Wonder”, as the necklace is called, is completely blown away by it. That’s easy to write, but one person’s Wonder is someone else’s Tacky Bling.
Then there is The Cake, which is a feature of Spirit’s first chapter. My downtrodden heroine Ruth takes refuge in comfort-eating her way through the most intricate, irresistible cake my chocolate-loving mind could devise - so once again there are no on-line pictures available. I face bringing it to life in my own kitchen for the sake of taking a photograph. At least the result will be edible, so it won’t be wasted. If the finished cake isn’t photogenic, we’ll simply have to eat the evidence and try again until I produce a confection that does the job. It’ll be tough, but someone has to do it (!) If I want to show you the image in my head, that’s the only way it’s going to get on Pinterest.
They say “The pictures are better on radio” because they come from your imagination and aren’t fed to you ready made, as they are with TV. Do you think the same goes for reading and images on the web? Would being able to see The Brackenridge Wonder or Ruth’s cake add to your enjoyment, or do you prefer to escape with your own ideas of Paradise when you read? 

There’s a signed copy of my latest Harlequin Mills and Boon Modern Romance The Count’s Prize on offer for a comment picked at random.

Christina Hollis writes both Contemporary and Historical fiction - when she isn’t cooking, gardening or beekeeping.


  1. I like to use my imagination when I read. It's actually one of the joys. To let the words wash over me & just take flight.

  2. Hi Marybelle, thanks for commenting. It's wonderful to be able to lose yourself in a book, isn't it? You can travel anywhere, and choose whether you want to escape into the past, present or future.

  3. Oh yeah! Books will take you anywhere, everywhere you want without a passport or a plane :p. And I agree that it's better to use one's imagination than be fed to you, where's the thrill in that? :D

  4. Hi Lory - thanks for commenting. The rapid rise of Fifty Shades and the like shows that there's a lot of people interested in doing just that!

  5. The only thing I can equate for this is how well the book cover jives with the description in the book. I have often been disappointed in that, especially when the characters hair colors don't even match. But I gather that authors often don't have control of the covers. So perhaps an authors own selections & pins on pinterest would be accurate to the books descriptions. Cudos to you for being able to figure out the how to pin things - I still have to rely on Pin buttons presented to me.

  6. yes sometimes i let my imagination roam while reading book :)

  7. Like other commenters, I prefer to leave
    the pictures to my mind! I guess that's
    why I get thrown when the written
    description does not match the cover.
    or vice versa!) I'd rather go with the
    mental images!

    Pat C.

  8. Hi Di - thanks for commenting. I must admit my daughter is showing me how to use Pinterest. I was wary about the copyright aspect, but she says she's checked every angle and in any case, a lot of the photos are ones we've taken ourselves.

  9. That's what books are for, Eli! Thanks for commenting.

  10. Hi Pat, thanks for commenting. I agree, it's a bit distracting to find a cover that doesn't match the contents. Once I've formed an image in my mind of the characters, it sticks and makes me wonder "who are these strangers on the front?"!

  11. Hi Christina,

    I agree with you and Pat it is very upsetting when the characters inside do not match with what is inside. I love to be able to match the picture on the front with scenes inside.

    Thank you for the give away and for the chance to win !


  12. I like to imagine my own pictures with a story. Ít's much more fun & the reason I love to read so much is because it's an escape into fantasy land. If I am shown a bunch of pictures it takes away from the joy.

    1. Congratulations, Kirsten, I've just done the draw and you've won a signed book! Please let me have your snail mail address and I'll get it into the post asap.
      Best wishes

  13. Hi Christina, I will look for your boards and follow! I LOVE Pinterest and I especially love the authors boards. Abby Green does boards of her books really well and is one of my faves. I try and keep a folder for stuff I HAVE actually made from Pinterest heheehhe. There is so many inspirational things for me from Maths ideas to help my kids thru to xmas crafts ideas for those that have it all. Have a ball in Pinterest :)))

  14. Hi Christina!
    You're right... looking through other people’s collections is highly addictive:) I haven't started my own Pinterest, but looking through others is just as much fun for me.

    Sometimes I do prefer to escape and create my own images, but I do like seeing what the author comes up with for pictorial inspiration and see if it's anywhere close to what I was thinking or maybe even better:)

  15. Hi, Desere, thanks for commenting. Luckily, we can always open the book quickly to avoid the cover!

  16. Hi Kirsten, the problem is that once we get an image fixed in our heads that's exactly how the hero, heroine or setting should look. I'm exactly the same, which is why I had so much trouble choosing images for the board. I couldn't find an exact match, but of course it's all so subjective, anyway.
    Thanks for commenting!

  17. Hi, Tash, Abby's Boards are amazing, aren't they? Beautiful, and professionally put together. Thanks for commenting!

  18. Hi Yadkny, thanks for commenting. I'm definitely starting a board for each new book now you've said that!

  19. Hi Everyone, thanks for reading my blog entry. I'm on holiday this week, so announcing the winner of the draw for a signed book may be a bit delayed. Please excuse this, and I'll post it here asap.
    Christina x

  20. Hi again - I've just done the draw, and Kirsten won. Thanks again to everyone who commented, and congratulations, Kirsten!