Today I have a Guest Post from Author of The Little Church by the Sea, Liz Taylorson. Liz talks to us about Inspiration.
Inspired by …
Many authors draw inspiration from the view outside their study window. The rolling hills of the Cotswolds, perhaps, the Lakeland fells or a windswept Scottish beach … Ah, smell that sea air, how could anyone fail to be inspired?
The view from my desk is rather more suburban. I can see a wide patch of tarmac intended for turning vehicles but mostly used as a handy little car park by the neighbours, and a road beyond it. It’s not an exciting road, it’s a small hill that goes up towards the railway station. The most exciting things about it are the blossom trees in the spring and watching cars slide down it in the snow.
However I still spend an inordinate amount of time looking out of my window when I should be working … So other than gazing out of the window, where do I get my inspiration?
When it came to writing my first novel, the first thing I did was make a list. I love lists and pretty notebooks to write them in and I knew I wanted my story to have a wintery setting – I wanted the bleakness of the seaside in winter and I wanted the prettiness of Christmas, frost and snow. So I listed all the things that inspired me about winter – the contrast of dark nights and pretty lights, frost on the windows and flames in the hearth, holly and ivy hanging against a wood panelled wall and silver candlesticks. I listed half remembered childhood customs, songs and stories. And then I tried to imagine the kind of place I could set a story that included all these elements.
Then I came across a door. A picture of a door, in fact, an old wooden door belonging to a tiny cottage in Robin Hood’s Bay, a fishing village not far from Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast. It had a beautiful old door-knocker and a Christmas wreath hanging on it. It would be just the kind of place for wood panelled walls, silver candlesticks, mulled wine and mistletoe, but what kind of things might happen in a cottage like that?
Now I had a setting of the seaside in winter, I knew that with it would come an element of danger – high tides, storms, cold and a community that could easily be isolated by the wrong kind of weather, plenty of drama there! It gave a lovely contrast to the warmth and tradition of Christmas.
Finally I had to think about who was going to be at the heart of the story. I knew that I wanted to write about a lonely woman who had never had a full relationship with a man, so I asked myself who might find themelves in this position? The answer came quite quickly – someone with a strong belief that sex before marriage was wrong. Someone religious … a vicar perhaps? A female vicar. But why on earth would a single female vicar be living in a pretty cottage in the middle of a seaside village and not a in vicarage?
Because something had happened to the vicarage and she couldn’t live there. Something dramatic and unusual that would make a good starting point for her story, her quest to find a home and the right man to share it with … And this is where another kind of inspiration came in. I sometimes work with an author of local history books, helping him prepare his manuscripts for publication – and he had written a book about the North Yorkshire coast, which documented several cliff falls including the demise of the Holbeck Hall Hotel in Scarborough in 1993. So, what if her vicarage had fallen over the cliff?
And there you have it. The things that have inspired me – books, pictures, pretty notebooks to make lists in and looking out of the window!
Liz’s novel The Little Church by the Sea is published by Manatee Books and can be purchased from Amazon at: goo.gl/Wwr5uG
Liz is on Facebook at @TaylorsonLiz and Twitter @taylorson_liz. She has a blog at liztaylorson.wordpress.com
Thank you so much to Liz who happens to live local to me, your time writing this is much appreciated.