I'm a novelist and I can write anywhere. This is a good thing because I live in three different places - Dubai, London and Cornwall. When people discover that I live in Dubai and the UK they look at me enviously. And I understand why, I do , I really do, but the reality is a bit different. From the mundane - that the item you want like the book you really fancy reading to the perfect shoes for the day are always in the wrong location...to the important-you are in the wrong place to attend something special.
However I have developed a useful skill. I write about Cornwall. That is the place where I see and feel stories all around me. So how do I manage to do this when of the three places that I live I spend the least time there? Well, I see a movie screen in front of me as I write. So I can be sitting in the garden in Dubai actually looking at the bougainvillea, but actually be seeing agapanthus or the Helford River.
Bougainvillea in my Dubai garden
The scent of frangipani can be filling the air and I'll be smelling salt and seaweed and cows. What is in front of me when I write is more than 3D, it's all the senses
When I am actually in Cornwall I am like a sponge drinking all the details around me. I also use the camera on my phone as an aid memoir, snap pictures of the small details...the flowers in the hedgerows that I hadn't noticed before. Strangely I never look at these photos when I'm writing...it's more a case of taking the picture cements the detail in my mind.
For my latest book, A Cornish Stranger, I had the luxury of actually spending a week in the cabin where the book was set.
View from my cabin garden
I could look up from the keyboard and actually see what I had just been picturing. Stepping back from the laptop I could wander out onto the terrace and smell the pine and hear the water lap at the rocks below. In an ideal world this would be the way to write all the time but for the moment I use the multisensory movie screen in my head to block the rest of the world out and to live in Cornwall...at least when I'm at the keyboard!
If it happened all the time, I'd miss the joys of the blue skies and warm seas of Dubai
The Cornish House
A Cornish Affair
A Cornish Stranger