Getting the lie of the land

A lot of locations for stories are based on places that I’ve visited. So, any time I’m on holiday, I’m also discreetly observing, and noting, the places with an ulterior motive.

At some point in time they’ll finish up in a story.

Places like Florence, London, Paris, New York and Venice have all been used in recent stories.

Of course places change, and there are some that I can’t get to, so it’s useful having Google Maps and Street View. These can either make up for lack of memory and a be a refresher.

Especially if you need to visit Africa. Parts of several stories are set in Nigeria, not exactly a place I would go, no matter how much I wanted to get the lie of the land, nor would I go to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda, maybe, but in investigating locations, it is interesting to discover that places like Kenya and Rwanda are reasonbly safe. Uganda is more or less the same, but whether I’d visit, as inviting as it might be to see the wildlife (animals that is) I’m thinking Google Maps will do for now.

And, of course, at the moment there is another reason why I can’t get a practical look at overseas locations. Covid-19.

I have always had a fascination for other places, from way back when I was in school and we did a subject called geography. Back then, nearly 60 years ago, we had school atlases that had all of the British colonies, even if they had become independent, coloured red on the maps, and there was a lot of them.

Places like London, of which we also studied in history, always held a fascination for me, and, in particular, the royal family. Oddly enough, I knew all of the kings and queens from 1066 onwards, and yet had no idea who our Prime Ministers in Australia were.

It wasn’t until much later we learned about Australian history.

But seeing places foreign are only part of the story. I have had time during the pandemic when we were not allowed to leave home, to delve into the historical side of Australia, and it has created a fascination for writing a story that has basis in fact.

This was unwittingly pushed along when my grand daughter came home from school with the assignment of writing a story about a character that was affected by a historical event. Thus Eliza at the Eureka Stockade was created.

I remember back in university days when working on the narrative part of my literature stream we were set an assignment based on pictures from a certain period, and a series of written documents to put together a story. Mine was about a passenger on a ship from Melbourne to Geelong in the days before rail around the time of the gold rush.

I’m guessing that’s what is called historical fiction.

Well, it’s time to get back to the mists of time…

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