Thursday, 26 June 2014

Writing - Research and atmosphere

Rather than do my research for a place that figures in my current project, Earth plc, I decided to get feet on the ground.

Kielder Forest is a large forestry plantation in NorthumberlandEngland, surrounding the reservoir Kielder Water. It is the largest man-made woodland in England. The majority of the forest lies within The Border Forest Park with the southern tip, known as Wark Forest, lying within Northumberland National Park.

I went to Kielder because a body is found there in my latest Steele story. I have had a desire to go to the forest since I was quite young and still living in Sunderland. My Dad always hedged on taking me and when pushed would just say that there was nothing to see. I went earlier this week.

I know what my father meant. There were no people to see, no cars, no phone masts, no windmills and no noise. There was nature, acres of it, and it encroached on you like a massive green and peaceful blanket decorated with endless bird song.

The atmosphere that I was seeking was tangible. When writing about a place, if you haven't visited it, there may be something missing. In fact you can make mistakes which it is not right in my opinion to justify oneself with - 'it is fiction!' I recently heard of a famous author whose most recent novel has factual inaccuracies about the c, part of which you can see aboveity of Florence in Italy. I don't want to go down that route. There was a deep sense of 'loneness' and desolation in the forest.

This was borne out by the 12 mile forest drive along a single track toll road part of which can be seen above. This was a good bit! Most of the road is not surfaced and the recommendation is for 4 x 4 vehicles although ordinary cars can pass with care. I spoke soothingly to my Kia Rio and persuaded that it was really a 4 x 4! By taking it slowly I traversed the wooded wilderness in about an hour and wasn't disappointed.

There was wildlife also,
 a pheasant crossed my path as did a tiny, little vole.  There were signs promising red squirrels also although they were rather like the bears I was promised in Canada last year - missing! 

The bottom line is that when embarking on writing the only piece of universal advice is 'write from where you're at and what you know!' I am pleased that I'm now in the 'know' about Kielder.

God Bless