Sunday, September 30, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

It's been awhile since we've done one of these; we thought we'd take a short portion from an earlier chapter in the book, featuring Gabriel on his own, walking in the Lake District in England on a stormy day. Enjoy, and let us know what you think.

There was a bright flash off to his right, accompanied by a loud boom just afterwards. Across the meadow, just twenty or thirty feet away, at the tree line, a  stray bolt of lightning had hit a large tree. He could see its path down the trunk, a zigzag pattern reaching down the bulk of the tree. There was a groan, almost as if the tree itself was calling out… and then the tree started to give way. It tilted, pitching forward, away from Gabriel. He watched as it broke away from the roots, the trunk slamming into the ground, the air filled with electricity and the peculiar smell of burnt wood.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rough Living, But Someone's Got To Do It

I recently came across some pages from a magazine that were sent to me years ago by a fellow author. The pages were a photo spread of the homes of bestselling authors Sidney Sheldon and Jackie Collins. The handwritten note accompanying the pages read "What are we doing wrong?"

What indeed! Sheldon even rented an Italian castle in which he wrote one of his novels. Are you green with envy yet?

It started a discussion between James and myself about writer's workspaces. We quite frankly do our best work (and play!) between the sheets, so we know the importance of atmosphere to creativity! And then we happened to come across a rather nice spot. Just the sort of ramshackle country home one could retire to, right?

A ramshackle country home, hmmm? This is the Chateau de Chillon, near Montreaux, Switzerland. The place has something of a fairy tale look to it, set on a rocky islet in Lac Leman, built in a way that makes it look as if it's floating on the water. The earliest parts of the castle can be dated back a thousand years, and it's thought that the site might have been in use much longer. The House of Savoy (otherwise known as the Savoy Cabal) got hold of it back in the twelfth century, and much of the present medieval structure dates back to that early period. These days it's owned by the local canton, and it draws in the tourists.

It's certainly not all fairy tales and magic dust. There are dungeons carved right into the rock itself at the foundations, and in fact during the Reformation, Francois Bonivard, a local official in favour of the religious schism, was held captive on the site between 1530 and 1536. Lord Byron, in between his usual debaucheries (this is a poet who'd shag anyone in a skirt or pants, including his half-sister), paid a visit to the place (and left graffiti behind) and incorporated the story into a poem, The Prisoner of Chillon.

Lord Byron's Parting Gift To The Dungeons

Other authors came in Byron's wake through the 19th century, and the success of the Chateau in drawing in visitors is due to the attention they gave it. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Percy Shelley, and more have wandered through the buildings and corridors that make up the castle, writing about it, shedding light on the place, and the end result is that even today, anyone doing the grand tour of Europe will be drawn to finding their way there. It's just the expected thing to do.

In our writing together and on our own, we already have and will continue to place our characters into settings across the world, and this certainly looks like the ideal spot to set a scene. Have you heard of the castle? Is it the sort of spot you might see yourself stopping in at?