Saturday, 13 June 2009

Russia, Rewrites and Research

I've started the rewrites on THE DARK GODDESS. The book's going to be different, that's for sure.
DK was set in London, my hometown. I had the luxury to visit all the sites, hang out and soak up the atmosphere. Chapter 1 opens with the aerial mast of Crystal Palace because I see it every day. It paid off and London seems real and works well in the book.
TDG is set in Russia. I've read up on it, worked through a few guide books but what's coming back is the story doesn't live the way DK does. Moscow must be a real as London and right now it isn't. I've grabbed a few more books and will studiously work through them. But it's not enough.
So, come July I'm heading out there. Haven't booked the tickets yet but have more or less fixed the dates. All for the sake of research. It could be there are those of you who can make a fantasy world live totally from your imagination and with no map or trips involved. Not me. That's probably why I could never right 'straight' fantasy. If you're in that field, you have my total respect!
The picture above are three Bogatyrs, Russian knights shown to protect the Motherland. I've a few of them in my book. I've added Baba Yaga, her werewolf followers, a big battle in Moscow and a lot of trauma in St. Petersburg and a blood-soaked climax in Chernobyl. If you thought the end of DK was desperate you've not read anything yet.
Writing is about going all out. You can't be half-hearted about it. I suppose I could manage to write the story without going out there, but then it wouldn't be the best story I could write. I'd have sold myself short and sold the reader a half-hearted tale. It's a waste of my time and certainly a betrayal of yours. It all falls under the 'Contract with the Reader' clause.
Still, a trip to Russia, that doesn't sound like a hardship! Just need to make sure I pack my lead-lined underwear before I go to Chernobyl...

6 comments:

Sue Eves said...

Michelle Paver camped in Finland & Lapland while researching Wolf Brother. Reading the book, it feels like she went with Torak on his journey through the ancient forest.

Good luck and I hope you are equally inspired by Russia. It's a long way from Crystal palace!

DOT said...

Lucky you. If you need an additional sponge to soak up the atmos I am your man.

Read an interview of yours about your approach to writing in some writer's mag while browsing in Borders. Very interesting.

Jon M said...

That's research and a half! Just don't upset anyone at passport control, Pleeeeeease!

SarwatC said...

I've just bought Russia by Jonathan Dimbleby and it's great! Wish I was going for longer now.
I will warn you when I go and if I'm not back and blogging in a week, aletr the authorities that something has gone terribly wrong with passport control.
Oh, the competition is now ENDED, all the books are gone. There's a fair few books to be posted, so that'll probably spread over a another week.
I'll be running another comp soonish.

Gareth said...

TDG sounds v. exciting... think it's an excellent strategy to visit the places - particularly alone maybe so you can soak it all up without playing tourist, daddy etc. Now you're a pro you're doing the right thing to grab these opportunities, I think.

Tam said...

I'm a great believer in writing what you know (and my teen book is also set in London) so think a trip to Russia is definitely in order.

I bought Devil's Kiss yesterday (after finding you via Jon M's blog) and am looking forward to reading it. The man in the bookshop recommended it and even told me a bit about you. Only good things, naturally :-)