Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ah, homecoming. London 2010

Oh, London, how I love thee. Returning to London is the homecoming of my soul. The only thing missing was the love of my life, but he had to remain in NYC as our work schedules just couldn't make a joint trip possible. But my incredible family were more than wonderful to have as traveling companions, and made the trip possible in the first place. I'm so grateful.

The London part of my trip 'across the pond' was all about recharging. A trip to London means indulging the invigorating surge that overtakes my mind and heart while walking the streets; returning to the inciting inspirations that first birthed the Strangely Beautiful saga. This trip wasn't about packing in moments of tourism, this was simply about happily wandering and paying homage. First of these blissful days had me returning to the Bloomsbury district and strolling along the paths Alexi and Rebecca would have done in a promenade route to my fictional Athens Academy. Here's a specific shot down Grape Street in the heart of Bloomsbury, which looks quite similar to what the alleys around Athens, and indeed Athens itself would appear to be.

A further course of meaningful wandering included Hampstead Heath and Highgate Cemetery, two places of particular importance and magic. Its no surprise that graveyards are particularly fascinating to me, they hold a distinct energy not replicated in any other context. Eternal crossroads, these locales are both sacred and alluring- particularly to a paranormal author. A garden-style graveyard like Highgate is the epitome of aching beauty, a paradox of life and death; eternal monuments, temporal humanity, cold stone and soft flower. You know Hampstead and Highgate well from my books. The Rychman estate is just off Hampstead Heath and Highgate Cemetery, built in the first half of the 19th century and seen pictured here, is a focal point of ghostly unrest in the Strangely Beautiful saga. In my Highgate pilgrimage, from the moment I slipped inside the gate, I again saw my Guard darting among the monuments. I paid my respects to beloved authors Douglas Adams and George Eliot among others, ever marveling at the beauty of sculpture, stone, verdant ivy and flora. Wandering nearby Hampstead Heath and looking down over London in the distance, I was transported by walking the childhood haunts of Miss Violet Rychman, who will be the star of Strangely Beautiful #4; Miss Violet and the Great War, and for whose book the bulk of the research on this trip was dedicated. I ate wild blackberries and my mind's eye watched her and the hero, William Page, doing the same as children.
The Imperial War Museum was a day in and of itself. I spent countless hours learning about the details of World War I. It is not something I can begin to summarize in a blog post. It is sobering, terrible, incredible tales, millions of tales, millions of lives affected and lost. I will but scratch the surface in my book as I continue to learn about this behemoth struggle that was supposedly The War to End All Wars. You will hear much more about my complex response to the research when I post my Verdun, France entry later this week.
Ghost and Jack the Ripper expert Richard Jones was kind enough to reserve a place for my family and I on his Jack the Ripper walking tour, led by Ripperologist Philip -, an expert and author on the matter. His tour was entertaining and informative and while I had gone on this tour once before, and doing so inspired me to use The Ripper in The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, it was meaningful to do so again as certain forthcoming changes to the London streets will block certain murder sites from visitation. So paying one last homage to Mitre Square, the site of Catharine Eddowes' murder before it is irrevocably changed was important.
An exciting signing at Forbidden Planet brought my London adventures to a close. I will have more pictures forthcoming. There couldn't have been a nicer staff and attending managers, the store is one of my favourite places on earth, a haven for all things I love, and after a rousing Doctor Who discussion, one of the managers there, Jon, gifted me with a Tom Baker (Doctor #4) action figure that now holds a sacred place on my awards shelf. I was attended there by blogger extraordinaire Hasna from The Bookpushers, ever grateful for her presence and support. It was such a delight to meet her in person. And Richard Jones himself dropped by! I was so honoured that my foremost resource on the Ghosts of England and on Jack the Ripper came by in support of my work. As you know, all the ghosts I use in the Strangely Beautiful saga, other than spirits I've created inside Athens, are real London haunts that I plucked from Richard's accounts in his many books on the subject. Please look for his next work; Haunted Britain, releasing in October. It was so thrilling to meet this kind and generous inspiration of mine in person. Having dinner with him and Hasna was such a treat, there couldn't have been a better way to say goodbye to London. If you'd like a signed copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and / or The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, Forbidden Planet has them ready to ship to you!
While it was goodbye to London, it won't be for long. A girl gets too homesick for her soul's native land otherwise. Then on to Paris! And that's another entry entirely. Stay tuned. Blessings!


Hanna said...

Sounds like you had a lovely time! I can't even imagine England, it sounds so pretty. :)

Hey, speaking of Dr Who, have you started watching Matt Smith's first season?? ;)


tommaso gullì said...

Salve. You know who owns this grave with the bust of the lady who has a broken nose? It's his story? This tomb is still in Highgate?Thanks Thomas