First of all, let me thank Chris for letting me invade her blog today. I know that Chris loves to write about beautiful homes and Interior Design, so in order to (hopefully) make this a bit more interesting than just the random ramblings of me as an author, I thought I’d talk about locations and, more specifically, the houses where two of my characters live.
I love doing research, and to me one of the most important things as I start a novel is to get an idea of the ‘personal space’ of a character. If I can’t imagine them in their house, then I might as well give up. After all, they’ve got to have a base, and as I have quite a cinematic mind, I like to imagine my people walking around, going to bed, making a cuppa, opening a bottle of wine… in short, doing all the things a human would usually do. I once got pulled up in a Masters Degree assignment by the tutor asking why I felt the need to identify all my characters with cake? My response (which was silent because I didn’t want to get into trouble) was, “why not?”
I suppose by deciding what someone likes to treat themselves with, is a similar thing to working out what makes a character tick. For instance Lissy, one of the characters who crops up in all three of my Rossetti Mysteries books, is simultaneously one of the most annoying and one of the most fun personalities I’ve ever explored. She lives in a lovely apartment in London, and to find her this house, I trawled though high-end estate agents’ websites and bolstered my ideas using Google Street View, until I finally found an apartment I could see her in – right down to the modern kitchen, the thick, cream carpets and the mezzanine floor. Lissy does like her champagne and is a bit of a fiend for chocolate biscuits – and my tutor would probably groan if she read that in the novel - but in The Girl in the Photograph, we also discover that Lissy is not averse to proper comfort food like family size bars of chocolate and indeed cake. So when I identified her with these habits, I immediately saw her in this lovely, modern kitchen with nothing out of place – but her chocolate biscuits are very easy to find in there, even though she pretends she’s bought them for her friends and not herself. Similarly, in The Girl in the Photograph, her ex-boyfriend knows her well enough to think he can win her back with biscuits, treats, and Fortnum and Mason’s Rose and Violet hot chocolate - which is a nod to the real girl beneath the slightly brittle, spoiled person she’s been in the first two books.
Lissy’s two friends, Becky and Cori on the other hand, find it impossible to have a very important conversation in Lissy’s pristine apartment, biscuits or no biscuits - so I had to take them outside, and into a nearby park – which suited both those girls much better, as they are both much more down to earth and live in much more of a muddle than Lissy. For The Girl in the Painting, I needed Cori to have a place in London too – and again by trawling estate agents (and accidentally clicking a button which generated a ‘chat’ with an agent before I screamed and quickly closed the browser down), I found a very beautiful Mews House which needed a little TLC. One comment I got back from someone who read the book pre-publication was rather scathing, as she said you’d never find a Mews House like I described in London – because she knew what the place was like and she knew all about Mews Houses…. I bit my tongue and kindly directed her to the estate agent’s website – so I could prove that yes, Cori’s house did exist, and yes, it was possible to get a place like that in London. The cushions and mismatched furniture that Cori loves so much are, however, her very own invention. I ended up discovering that, when I wrote about her.
The Girl in the Photograph
What if the past was trying to teach you a lesson?
Staying alone in the shadow of an abandoned manor house in Yorkshire would be madness to some, but art enthusiast Lissy de Luca can’t wait. Lissy has her reasons for seeking isolation, and she wants to study the Staithes Group – an artists’ commune active at the turn of the twentieth century.
Lissy is fascinated by the imposing Sea Scarr Hall – but the deeper she delves, the stranger things get. A lonely figure patrols the cove at night, whilst a hidden painting leads to a chilling realisation. And then there’s the photograph of the girl; so beautiful she could be a mermaid … and so familiar.
As Lissy further immerses herself, she comes to an eerie conclusion: The occupants of Sea Scarr Hall are long gone, but they have a message for her – and they’re going to make sure she gets it.
Kirsty is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale 'Enchantment'.
Her timeslip novel, Some Veil Did Fall a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, The Girl in the Painting in February 2016 and The Girl in the Photograph in March 2017. The experience of signing Some Veil Did Fall in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far!
Kirsty’s day-job involves sharing a Georgian building with an eclectic collection of ghosts – which can sometimes prove rather interesting.
You can find out more about Kirsty and her work at www.rosethornpress.co.uk, catch her on her Facebook Author Page or follow her on Twitter @kirsty_ferry.