There are two worlds authors inhabit – the one inside their heads and the one that is all around them. I spend so much of my time sitting at my desk, inside my imagination, I wonder if it will take me over one day.
This imaginary world is as real, even more real sometimes. But what is reality anyway?
In the world of the novel I am master of my little universe… or think I am. Often a character will dictate what course their life will take and I have no choice but to obey.
I used to start the day by listening to the news. I was addicted to it. I don’t do that anymore. It tainted my imagination. I like to write magic realism especially for 8 -12 year olds. I don’t watch or read the news at all nowadays. I don’t want to know about car accidents and murder and war. I don’t want to be left with the feeling that there is no hope, no future when I’m trying to write books that are full of hope, full of the future for my young readers. Turning off the news leaves my imagination to wander freely, like a bird awakening each day to a fresh new dawn.
This week I returned from a research trip for my new novel, The Wish Bird. I stayed in San Giovanni in Italy, London and New York. I observed, I took mental and physical pictures of what I saw.
When I begin a novel, I always start with the setting. I need to visualise a place where my characters can do their stuff, a stage for them to play on.
Some things jumped out at me and will be included in The Wish Bird.
Like these walls inside walls around Florence.
And the world of cats and pigeons atop the ancient rooftops of San Giovanni.
And this beautiful Egyptian carving of an owl that I saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I can’t decide if he is awake or asleep. One second he has his eyes open, but when you look again they are closed. I’m sure that was the artist’s intention.
I am excited and impatient to begin The Wish Bird. But I still need time, time to cast more seeds to the wind, time to let them grow little roots and shoots before I begin the harvest.