Thursday, March 28, 2013

Setting With the Click of a Camera

Our wonderful debut author, Krista Phillips, is fulfilling the duties of one of her primary callings today - being a mom. Her sweet baby, Annabelle, is recovering from illness in the hospital, so I'm the punt kicker today. If you want to follow how Krista and Annabelle are doing, check out Krista's blog.

And on a similar note, Krista's fun debut novel is up for free Kindle Download. You can find out more about THAT, right here.

So - what are we going to chat about today? How much a camera can give you a sense of setting for your novels.

Are you guys as crazy as I am? (that was rhetorical, btw) 
Do you take your camera with you everywhere?
I do.
Because I never know when I might walk into a place of inspiration. A sunset. A interesting panoramic scene. A historic bit of information.
Who knows!?!
(The picture to the left is of a house which will 'model' as Thistle Rush Lodge in my modernization of Jane Eyre. Took this pic while driving home from a hike)
In fact, I've taken pictures of places that are a part of my novels and used them to help remind me of the five senses I experienced while there - OR a certain scene of inspiration. 
Let me show you.
For several of my novels, I use two basic settings, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia/North Carolina and the rolling hills of Derbyshire, England. Not only that, but I have the perfect manor house I use as the inspiration for the 600 year old manor house in my favorite novel.
Some places just INSPIRE story - so that's why having a camera handy is the perfect accomplice to muse.

Haddon Hall in Derbyshire is one of those places. Set against the backdrop of rolling English hills, its tall stone walls and immaculate gardens can either intimidate (as in BBC's Northanger Abbey) or invite. I used Haddon Hall as a 'symbol' of a centuries old secret, as solid as the rock in which the home was built.

Recently, my husband and I took a day trip to Olde Salem, a beautifully restored Moravian Community set in Winston-Salem, NC. Since I write novels in various time periods, I took pictures along the way. The town is so wonderfully situatedn, it created an element of story just from walking down the cobblestone streets. Stopping to ask a historian or two about the history of it gave me even more story-fodder.

I was tickled to have my camera with me when the fam and I went on a "Mama's Writing Research" day-trip to Hot Springs, NC. One of my future novels takes place in this town in 1918. Hot Springs is one of the few places German Internees were held in America during World War I. Old pictures, the landscape, and just a visit with some of the ancestors of people who used to live there, helped frame future ideas for my story. Here is a picture of the remains of the Hot Springs Hotel and Spa which stood during the time of my novel.

 Since most of my novels are inspired by my home in the Blue Ridge, many of my contemporary novels are influenced by that world and culture.  The uniqueness of Appalachia, the importance of oral history, and the quirky culture makes it the perfect fuel for story ideas :-) I have family members who are just waiting to creep into a novel page in some form or other :-)

But not all pictures have to be from your own camera. Thanks to the great wide world of internet, you can locate pictures without leaving the comfort of your chair - though another trip to England would be JUST fine with me. The picture on the left is of a house I found for sale in England. It's the home of the devious Lady Cavanaugh in my current historical romance.
The great thing about checking out realtor sites, is they usually post pictures of the inside, use 'wording' from the locale, AND sometimes even provide blueprints - which is where I got the idea for a subterranean passageway in my novel :-)
What about you? Do you have pictures you've taken to inspire your work? Have you found some online? Does your setting reflect your story in any way?


Beth K. Vogt said...

Yes, I take my camera with me -- be it my "real" camera or my iPhone.
These days I have to share my camera with my husband, who has discovered a real love (and knack) of photography.

I take lots of photos -- some for my novels, which are based in present-day Colorado, and some for my blog, which is all about quotes. It's fun to highlight a quote with a photo I've taken or a photo my husband has taken. Makes it all the more personal.
Fun post, Pepper!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Great post, Pepper! And way to be a team player ;)

Yes, I'm a big fan of sort of scrapping together ideas for my stories. Even more so than setting. I have been known to snap a picture of a dress in a dept. store that would be perfect for a big scene. Or just the way the sky looks a certain night creates a feeling that will prey on a characters emotions a certain way. This is a great creative palate of paints for a writer!

Anonymous said...

I loved this, Pepper. I do take my camera with me most places. I love taking pictures. When the fam and I went to Breckenridge last fall, we took a back route, and I took a ton of pictures of one small town we drove through. I loved it!

I take pictures everywhere we go. Your idea of looking on realtors' websites is pure gold. Thanks for sharing it. If you do get back to England, can I stow away in your luggage? :)

Happy Easter, my friend!

Krista Phillips said...

Pepper... THANK YOU for pinch hitting for me. You rocked it, my friend!!!

Pepper said...

sorry guys, just getting in from a crazy day!!

Hi Beth!!! I bet you can use some of hubby's pics too, eh? :-)

Pepper said...

I do the SAME thing. i took a picture of a coffee grinder from 1910 and a late 1800s griddle while in an antique store because they would fit into a scene in my story.

Pepper said...

Come along, Jeanne!!
England is lovely!

Pepper said...

You got it, Krista!!!
Hoping for rest and healing for you guys!