August 01, 2022

Fiona McIntosh finds new inspiration in Wiltshire

The famous cloisters of the 800 year old Salisbury Cathedral

As most of you know I did a whirlwind trip to Wiltshire in England to find a new story during April.  International travel felt strange but also I could almost imagine ribbons being cut away that had harnessed me to not only Australia but for a lot of the last couple of years, cornered in South Australia. It didn't hurt me, of course, it forced me to turn around and consider a story from my home state and The Orphans was the result so I have no business complaining but it was certainly wonderful to get that sense of freedom again. As usual, I had no idea what I was looking for and so I just remained hopeful that whatever the story was, it knew it was looking for me!

I felt enormously rewarded to return from the UK with a rough arc of an idea that I outlined vaguely to my publisher who leapt on board with great enthusiasm and we have now contracted for that novel for your Christmas 2024 reading pleasure.  

I keep impressing upon myself to make life a fraction easier and not keep throwing up challenges but I seem to go dead to the inner voice when excitement overwhelms. In this case I became enamoured by an idea I had years ago but had never explored and had almost forgotten.  When I was in Salisbury and particularly Bath earlier this year it bounced back up and tapped me on the shoulder. All seemed to coalesce in my mind because what had been missing in that original idea was the setting.  Once I saw Bath and had walked around that grand and beautiful cathedral close at Salisbury, I knew I had my major landscapes for that story, conceived a while back, to work.

So, feeling confident that I can expand upon the idea now I have that missing jigsaw piece, I will be returning to Wiltshire this August with a view to doing all the groundwork on location that I traditionally do when preparing for a major new novel. 

That inner voice told me that in order to get the best out of the locations then the final few years of the 19th century was the latest era into which the story might start.  Bath for example was at its height in popularity with the gentry during the 1800s and much as I wanted to push into the 20th century with my storytelling for ease, Bath was no longer the 'place to be seen' say in 1910.  So I'm being pulled kicking and screaming again into an unfamiliar era and one that is far more difficult to recreate but it is authentic for the setting and what I hope will occur in the story.  Fingers crossed.

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