Friday, September 3, 2010

To London To London To Find My New Novel :-)

(To your left is a view of the River Wye from the gardens of Haddon Hall in Roseley, Derbyshire, UK)

Vacation - : (according to Merriam Webster online)

1. a respite or a time of respite from something : INTERMISSION

2. a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended b : a period of exemption from work granted to an employee

3. a period spent away from home or BUSINESS in travel or recreation had a restful vacation at the beach

Oh yes, vacations. Love them. A time for a break, something different, maybe even an adventure. For the next few Fridays, we’re going to be celebrating summer by chatting about Vacations and how they can be incorporated into our writing.

 (just a side note - you can NEVER take too many pictures. I'm a visual learner and need all the pictures I can get, even of the seeminly unimportant things)

If you’re a writer, vacations automatically stir up all sorts of possibilities – with research at the top of the list.
(The picture to the right is of Dethick, with the tower of St. John the Baptist Church clearly evident. Dethick is a hamlet in Derbyshire, UK)

So sit back and travel with me on my FAVORITE vacation and fabulous inspiration for so many of my novels.

In December 2007, my parents and brother plopped a surprise present under the Christmas tree for me. A promissory ‘note’ so to speak – a round trip ticket to England, to be used within a year.

Along with that note was my parent’s offer to keep all five of my kids so I could fulfill this lifelong dream of mine. England. My ancestry and the fantastic culture I’d fallen in love with through Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.
(Here's a pic of Dwight and I in front of Buckinham Palace)

Only problem?

I’d NEVER been on a plane. Or Train. Or subway. Or even a taxi. (I know, let’s talk about COUNTRY GIRL  - boy what a sensory overload :-)

So, off I went, excitement bubbling from me in waves of sente…no, more like paragraphs :-) My poor husband had to endure the entire 7 hour flight with a woman who grinned, squealed, and giggled about all the newness of it all. And I hadn’t even made it to ENGLAND YET!! :-)
(This picture is a view of some of the houses in The Peak District, a scenic area in the middle of England. Absolutely gorgeous. This particular view is near the famous ledge scene P & P)

What I found when I arrived was a place much like what I’d hoped. We spent six days in Derbyshire, the Peak District of England, and traveled by train down to London for a day. To be honest, I had much more fun trapsing around the countryside than in London (although it was a wonderful experience too). But my husband and I got a better opportunity to get to know a little of the culture and people in Derbyshire. London was really just another city, with REALLY old buildings and a beautiful place called Westminster Abbey.


Here’s a quick overview:
Chatsworth Hall  - pictured on the left (the newest filmed Pemberley from Pride & Prejudice) Fabulous tour and immaculate gardens. The experience here inspired the garden 'maze' scene in my contemp romantic comedy.
The Peak District, specifically Hathersage, Bakewell, & Castleton (just so you know, Castleton is an ancestral home of mine. Cool, huh? William Peveril built Peveril Castle in Castleton around the 12th century) To the left is a picture of the castle keep at Castleton.

Hathersage is where Charlotte Bronte wrote her famous novel, Jane Eyre

And Bakewell is one of the oldest towns in that part of England.

In London, we saw the tower (which works out well in one of my historicals), Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square. Westminster was amazing. And, of course, we rode in the double decker bus.
Westminster Abbey and a double decker bus to the left :-)

Haddon Hall was my favorite place we visited. A 12th century manor house I use as the model for my contemp romance (and prequel historical). Used in the movie, The Princess Bride and the newest version of Jane Eyre, as well as The Other Bolyen Girl, this house felt like you’d truly stepped back in time. I wish I could put more pictures, but I’ve place a lot on my blog if you want to see more.
Haddon Hall Courtyard pic to the right.

Two more things:

The place we stayed, The Manor Farm Inn in Dethick, was a 12th century farm house-turned-B&B. Known as being the home of Anthony Babbington, of the Babbington Plot against Queen Elizabeth I, this house also had a subterranean passageway built by Babbington in the hopes of rescuing Mary, Queen of Scots, from her imprisonment at the nearby at South Wingfield Manor. This became the  inspiration for one of my historical novels, as well as a contemp romance and contemp suspense. Isn't a subterrainean passpageway a GREAT idea?

Our hosts were wonderful for filling us in on British tips, recommending a pub to visit, and even setting up our train ride to London. Gilly, the hostess, even made us sandwiches for our trip. Chutney and Cheese, and ham and cheese.

Secondly, we took a five mile walk around the hamlet of Dethick. Apart from a fabulous country walk along footpaths, we met a sweet native out walking his dogs. Within five minutes of chatting, he invited us in for tea. IT was a marvelous experience.

We were blessed to have friends in Lea, the adjoining town to Dethick, who chauffeured us around the whole week, taking us along paths and such that others might not have the opportunity to go. In only six days, I left with more story ideas than I’ve had a chance to write.

The pic to the right is our footpath from my friends' house up to Dethick church (or Church of John the Baptist at Manor Farm)
I know it isn’t usually an option to visit distant places for research, and a trip like this probably wont' come back around for me for a VERY long time. It’s time-consuming and expensive, but there are things you glean from an on-hands experience that you can’t read online. The morning mist as you walk along the lush green pastures. The interesting songbirds which sound different than ones near my home. The melody of British accents and the tune of their speech. The words and phrases used in everyday speech...
It enriched my story – as research should always do.
And I can’t wait to go back again….to the same place :-)
Maybe adding Ireland or Scotland to the list.
It was unforgettable and totally inspiring.

Have you ever traveled somewhere far away and discovered a story by accident?


Casey said...

Oh, squeeeeeeeeeeeeel! Love the pictures, Pep! I wish I could have gone with you, it is so beautiful! Why did you go? Just for fun or did you have other intentions? What great inspiration for writing!

Pepper said...

It was a big surprise. My brother saved up for it and bought it for me because he knew I'd ALWAYS wanted to go to England. Every since I was 10 or 11 years old. He had some kind of benefits thing through his employer, so he earned so many flight-points for various assignments or something.
It was COMPLETELY for pleasure. but, of course, when you're a writer, almost every trip becomes research ;-)

Mary Vee Writer said...

So, are we plannng a writer's conference there?

My daughter took a 6 week Medievil course at Oxford. Each day her group took a day trip from which she called me, shouting, "Guess where I am, Mom!" It always was someplace thrilling. I can't imagine the memories you have. Thanks for giving us a peek. :)

Casey said...

Wow! How sweet is that your brother would do that for you! How long ago did you visit?

Pepper said...

I think you're brilliant. Yes-Oh Yes, I think a writing conference there is a brilliant idea ;-)

Pepper said...

We went in May/June 2008 - too long ago ;-)
My family know this rule:
With the proceeds of my first sell, I'm celebrating by going back ;-)

Pepper said...

Btw, my brother is SUPER sweet. Pretty much always has been super sweet.

Regina Merrick said...

Wow, Pepper, what a gift! A trip like that will always be with you. I've taken two trips that were almost like "research" to me - but nothing like THAT! One was to all the "Little House" sites. I've read Laura Ingalls Wilder's books so many times they're like family, so seeing the places were truly emotional. And then summer before last we took a return trip to the beach in South Carolina where my book is set. I got the idea for the book on the first trip, and the second trip just made some of the localities more concrete to me. I could almost SEE my characters in different places!

Let me know when you plan that UK Writing conference! ;)


Pepper said...

What beach in SC? We went to one of the islands off the coast of SC this summer and it was a lovely visit.

You are on the lists for The Writers Alley first annual international writers conference. LOL

Laura Frantz said...

Pepper, God bless your parents and brother! The pics are beautiful ~ truly the trip of a lifetime. Am so happy it provided inspiration for you. England had that effect on me, too. And now I want to go back so badly... Count me in for TWA first annual int'l conference:)

Regina Merrick said...

Pepper, it's Litchfield Beach,in the Pawleys Island area, south of Myrtle Beach, and about an hour north of Charleston. Love that area!

Pepper said...

So glad you stopped by. You are SUCH a sweetie. TWO WEEKS until I get to meet you in person and give a BIG HUG!!
You're on the list for the conference, Laura - of course, and we'll have a spot of tea together. :-)

Pepper said...

You couldn't have been far from us. We stayed near Beaufort

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Sigh....what a beautiful trip! To have traipsed around England in such a way is a great treasure. I'm so glad you got to do that! I can't wait to read your contemporary with all the rich research incorporated!