Thursday, 11 August 2011

The imagination made real: Using photography to prepare for writing.

We're due home from France this weekend after a three week visit to my husband's parents. They live in a tiny hamlet which is in the middle of the National Forest. It is a beautiful spot and as you can imagine (with my well known tree fetish) perfect for writing inspiration.
Here the landscape is dotted with chateaus and medeival churches, as well as vast expanses of wild and unhusbanded forests.

The towns and landscape is so steeped in history, from the middle age settlements to the physical evidences of World War II.

Book Three of the Knight Trilogy (WIP title 'Starfire') is set in the Broceliande Forest of Northern France and the HQ of the Knights Templar in the Swiss mountains. The third book takes quite a dark and gothic turn and so some of the locations I have stumbled across whilst here on this trip have been perfect.

As a writer, a camera is as important to me as my notebook. I have always found visuals incredibly inspiring to my work and in another life I would like to have taken a more visual arts route. My brother-in-law has put me onto the photo programme Picassa which allows me to do collages and mood boards.


The mood board above is a collection of images that I have been gathering for work on the Templar Headquaters. It is an austere place, removed from the world. It is also a frightening, almost awesome place that is meant to instil a sense of fear and oppression. These photos were take at Rouchouart, a medieaval town about forty minutes drive from here.


It was a very masculine architectecture and the detailing in the design of the doors and hinges all add to a real sense of the gothic.

This mood board is taken from photographs of settings all less than three minutes walk from our family house. The forest here is really evokative and there is a real sense of isolation. Many of the paths are strung with spider webs because so few people walk down them. It is rich in its sense of magic and spookiness.


Today we came across this fairyring. The sun shining down on it gave it a completely magical feel. In book three there is a scene which involves a ring just like this and so it was amazing to be able to take a physical image of how I actually imagined it to be.

What I love about being on location like this is the way that it blurs the line between imagination and reality. Over the last three weeks I have been able to actually physically represent my thoughts and walk through elements of the world I have created.

When I get home to the concrete jungle of London, I shall print out my mood boards and pin them above my writing desk - hopefully they will help the real sense of magic alive.

1 comment:

  1. very good post! I wound up doing this over the past year, while setting up an urban fantasy based in my city. It does help. Especially if you find people who look like the character's you've envisioned. (and aren't celebrities!)

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