Location, Location, Location (Part 1 – Foreign Places)

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One of the funnier things I find in my writing is the lengths I will go to to find a suitable location for my books. By that I mean each scene within my books. Every place mentioned usually has within it the building blocks of several real places if indeed it is not a real place itself. Because of this I am always on the lookout for different backdrops, whether it be from books, online searches, travel programs or anything else. My mind is constantly “location hunting”.

In my new book, “Crescendo!”, my intrepid duo Austerley and Kirkgordon, race around the world and I thought it would be interesting to see where the locations in the book come from in reality. The first location is Arkham, and more specifically the asylum there.

Due to the book’s tie-ins with Lovecraft mythology, Arkham was an obvious start point, the central town in the whole area of Lovecraft’s nightmares. I consulted fictional books and maps, checking the rivers and bridges and location of the asylum. But the building itself, or rather the scene, reminded me of a scene in “Porridge”, the classic British sitcom where Fletcher is let loose for a time. The sheer drabness and loneliness of a walk out of captivity with fanfares. The start of the Blues Brothers film has the same feel.

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A trip to Russia then ensues and here was a major problem. At the current point in my writing career, ad hoc visits to far off countries are still beyond the budget. So thank goodness for the internet and those wonderful map programs where you can even place yourself in streets. I walked Russia’s alleyways, virtually, trying to see how my characters would perceive this place. Unfortunately the net doesn’t provide the smells and sounds and I had to think these into being (but I am meant to be a writer!). Pictures of a rather famous Russian café helped me in a little restaurant scene that occurs, giving me the feel of a past grandeur and a perfect backdrop to introduce Calandra, my Russian vamp.

It is funny how I have never been to any of these “foreign” places but felt able to find myself in their surroundings simply by a little application. I’m not here today to ponder on the finer pints of place description but rather as an encouragement to not limit yourself to places that you know when writing. With a little research, plenty of pictures, writings and a wee bit of imagination, you can make anywhere come alive. But yes, I would like the bigger budget, the private jet (now I am dreaming) to go and visit these places. But remember, places in the past or future, or those invisible except in the mythos of a person, cannot be reached. Well, except on the train of the mind and is that not our standard mode of transport as a writer anyway?

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G R Jordan author, poet, and top Dad apparently!

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