Monthly Archives: August 2016

A Paris Apartment Lost in Time

When I was writing my first novel Castle of Dreams I came across an article about a Paris apartment that had been lost in time. I filed the article away knowing I would use parts of the story and some of the images in a future story.

My work-in-progress is a dual narrative story set in World War One and its aftermath and in contemporary times. The story of the Paris apartment easily transposes to early twentieth century Australia where one narrative is set.

The locked Paris apartment has all the things I love: an abandoned home, images of what was left behind, a romantic story, a mystery.

 

In my files I have an unpublished story I wrote some years ago in which one of the characters is an artist so it wasn’t difficult to gather the threads of that story, reread my original research, and use this in my WIP. I always give my characters a particular profession or hobby that defines them throughout a story and in the past narrative of my WIP one of my characters is an artist. So when I looked again at the photos of the Paris apartment and noticed the abandoned paintings I knew I’d have to include these in my story. Perhaps one of the found paintings will be of a young woman as beautiful as Marthe de Florian.

Marthe de Florian, the apartment owner’s grandmother who was a Belle Epoque socialite, theatre actress, and Boldini’s (the artist who painted this picture) muse.

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The Paris apartment has all the elements of a fairytale including another of my favourite things: love letters from the past. They were found in the apartment, wrapped in different colored ribbons and scrawled in the hand of, among others, Boldini and 72nd Prime Minister George Clemenceau.

In the present day narrative my protagonist is a botanist who seeks the secrets of her family’s past. My mother was a keen gardener and loved to be outdoors and my daughter inherited her grandmother’s love of nature and gardens.  I didn’t.  Yet now I have started to research this subject I’m fascinated. Biblical references to plants and flowers is something I will use in my story: the healing properties of herbs, perfume, and more.  Botany is a wide church.

Jasmine Flowers

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Have a wonderful week, dreaming, writing and reading.

Elise x

 

 

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Dual Narrative Stories

My first novel Castle of Dreams is  a dual narrative story set in two time periods. It has  family secrets, love, and betrayal and I explore how the past impacts on the present.  I love to read stories written in two time periods and I like writing them. Castle of Dreams has a present day story set in 2008 and an historical thread set against a backdrop of WW2. It has secrets that unfold throughout the novel like a nest of Russian dolls.

My work-in-progress is a dual narrative story of loss and remembrance set against a backdrop of WW1 and its aftermath and the present. I am interested in how war impacts the people on the homefront as well as those who left their homeland to fight in distant lands. A generation was robbed of family members, lovers and in the case of many women the loss of their own future as wives and mothers. I have often wondered how these men and women ever found peace of mind after the war ended. Did they disappear from the fabric of a society which could never be the same again? Did they seek resolution? Did they mourn a lost generation for the rest of their lives? Or did they come to terms with their destiny?

These are the things I will be writing about in my new story. I am progressing slowly: I wrote an outline on three large sheets of butcher paper (it has changed along the way as I write) and I have a timeline for important happenings in my characters lives and also historical events. I am getting to know my characters and the secrets they keep.

I have always loved closed doors and shut gates as I wonder where they will lead to. Yesterday one of my characters from the present opened a gate that will lead her to many secrets from the past. Of course this will impact on her life and change it forever.

It was the sort of day she loved. The sky was blue and the air was drenched with the familiar scent of eucalypt. She had parked her rental car on the public road close to the iron gate that swung open at her touch.

I found the perfect gate in the image below and used it as the inspiration for the gate in my story. This scene is set in Australia while the gate below is in another country so I had to change what my character sees as she walks along the driveway to reflect the Australian countryside: birds, plants, trees, geography.

Image for the gate I used as inspiration for a scene in my story. 

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Last night I went to a friend’s birthday party in a city hotel. I knew most of the other party goers and they moved me as always with their sense of comaraderie and interest and support in each other’s work.

I fell in love with Steampunk which was the theme for the party. Like Alice in Wonderland I ended up in another place. Alice fell down the rabbit hole and I fell into the 19th century!

I had a spider tattooed on my arm (temporary) at the party.

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Have a wonderful week, dreaming, reading and writing.

Cheers Elise

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Telling the Bees-Mythology & Folklore

In my book Castle of Dreams I have a short scene where Vivien and Robert discuss bee folklore. Bees are prelevant in mythology and folklore and in my WIP I have created an eight acre orchard and my working farm has beehives. While researching bees I have become fascinated with these mythical insect that are  often thought of as having a direct route to heaven.

Honey Bee

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St. Gobnait

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The Irish saint is known for her care of the sick.Her name is the Irish equivalent of the Hebrew name Deborah, which means ‘Honey Bee.’ She used the properties of honey in the treatment of illness and healing of woundss.

Winter Bees

Bees prepare for winter by gathering a winter reserve of honey.

Honeybees head to the hive when temperatures drop. They have one main job in the winter — to take care of the queen bee. This means they must keep her safe and warm. As the weather becomes cool, the honeybees gather in a central area of the hive and form a ‘winter cluster’. The worker bees then flutter their wings and shiver. This constant motion and continuous use of energy is how the bees keep the inside temperature of the hive warm.

Bee lore, grounded equally in modern science and ancient tradition, is a fascinating study.

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The telling of the bees is a traditional European custom, in which bees would be told of important events in their keeper’s lives, such as births, marriages, or departures and returns in the household. If the custom was omitted or forgotten and the bees were not “put into mourning” then it was believed a penalty would be paid, such as the bees might leave their hive, stop producing honey, or die.The custom has been most widely noted in England but also recorded in Ireland, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and the United States. (Ref. Wikipedia)

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I admire beautiful book covers and I have sometimes bought a book just for its cover.  Here are a few book covers with images of bees.

Bee Book Covers.

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Have a wonderful week, writing, reading and dreaming.

Cheers Elise

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