Confession: when we went to England in September and spent a night in London, I wasn't happy about it. I'm not a city girl. I don't enjoy the hustle. Or the bustle. Or the traffic. Or the tall buildings. Or the pace. Or . . . pretty much anything about city life. So my goal was rather to avoid London during the trip, and we did a rather good job of it, but for when an early train to Paris required an overnight stay beforehand.
Which was fine, because I intended to avoid London in my books as much as possible too.
You can imagine my surprise when I realized that my third Shadows Over London book, An Hour Unspent, would not be set anywhere else.
Me: What do you mean, book? I'm your creator! I call the shots!
Book: Mwa ha ha ha.
First I thought, "Oh, I'll just start it in London like the other two books, then go somewhere else. Somewhere I've been. Somewhere beautiful and rural and slower paced."
My plot disagreed.
So I thought, "Well, I'll at least take my crew out of London for a while. A nice trip to, say, Devonshire. We passed a lovely day in Devonshire on our way to Cornwall."
My plot rolled its eyes at me. And just waited for me to realize that this determination to leave London was totally unnecessary and wouldn't work at all. It would feel tacked-on.
So here I am, a mere 10,000 words into my book, and ready to admit defeat on that score. London is my hero's world, and my heroine's too. It's where they belong. Where all the action needs to take place (well, aside from the end, which will travel to the western front of the war, into France).
Which left me with the problem of learning London. A rather large city to just become familiar with through books, etc. I'm sure I'm nowhere near fluent in its intricacies and details, especially for 1915. But when I realized I had to actually pin down details now about, say, what section of town my characters live in, I quickly thanked the Lord that I'd had the foresight (let's call it that, shall we, rather than "whim," which might be more accurate, LOL) to order a couple books on London in general and Edwardian London through photographs.
This one seriously saved my bacon.
This lovely book goes through the city section by section, following the Thames--which means that not only do I learn the quirks and interesting tidbits about each part, I also get a nice idea of which are close to which. It includes fun details like which writers and artists of centuries past made their homes in which part of the city; which neighborhoods Conan Doyle visited as research for Sherlock Holmes's network of homeless spies; which areas evolved over the decades and became trendy but used to be far different.
Hopefully, with the aid of my, er, well-planned purchases, I'll pull this off. Even if I am thinking with longing about all those other lovely stories I've written, set in Yorkshire and Scotland and Sussex and Cornwall and Wales. And narrowing my eyes at the stubborn Barclay Pearce, who refused to leave the city for more than a few days at the end.
Speaking of which, I need to go write the scene in which his little sister accuses him of being the same. ;-) I hope everyone's having a lovely week!