I think I may have lost my marbles. Do tell me if you see them rolling around anywhere, feel free to collect them up and keep a few cats' eyes for yourselves, I won't miss the odd one or two.
I have been planning a novel for some months now and next month I am going down to South Island to carry out research for it. I don't have to: in theory I could find all the information I require at my local libraries or from contacts I have made in South Island, and it's going to cost me an arm and a leg, but I really feel I need to experience the place I am writing about first hand. Plus, as there is a lot of oral history in NZ, I need to go to the place itself for that.
I don't want to give too many details away other than to say it is a variation on the idea of a triptych and already it is consuming me. I made a start with writing a few "scenes" back in June, to get a feel for my characters. Much of what I've written so far will not make it into the novel but it has served a very useful purpose, and been worth every word, to really bring my people to life.
This is the first novel I've tackled that's had me scared. I am worried I may have bitten off more than I can chew but there's nothing I love more than a difficult challenge: if something's not hard, it's not fun for me. So I'm doing as much research as I can to be as prepared as possible for everything I am throwing at my characters, and I'm chomping at the bit to find out what they're going to throw back at me.
I've never been to South Island before. When I started planning this novel I spoke to librarians - they were fantastically knowledgeable (as you would expect librarians to be) and went way beyond the call of duty to email links and things they thought might be of interest to me weeks after I had initially queried them! I was given contact details for people living in the place I am going to and was offered free accommodation! I asked an architect about a building and he offered to check out all the details on buildings in my story for accuracy! I have never encountered enthusiasm, helpfulness, generosity or trust as I have found from the people of New Zealand (except, maybe, in the UK! - Especially me, when I lived there!). But seriously, I've been blown away by the offers I've had. So this post is really a big thank you to New Zealand for all the opportunities it has given me.
The only downside is that I have to plan the whole trip! Everything requires timetabling and, as I have droned on about before, I really am not bedfellows with numbers. And the nearer the trip gets, the more stressed I get about catching the plane etc on time, and the more difficult I find organising all of the other things for the correct times and dates. It's giving me headaches - I need to eat some feverfew. I much prefer organising novels than trips! So my marbles have started disassembling and I may loose a few for good. So, go on, take some, I hope they are more use to you than to me!