Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Friday, July 13, 2018

World-building: More important than story?

My current work-in-progress, The Seventh Tapestry, has historical roots that reach back to France and Scotland in the 16th Century. But the main story is set in contemporary times. I thought maybe I could write this story a little faster than my usual three-year turnaround. Ha!

Did I pick easy settings, located just around the block? Nope. My story is set in Scotland and Paris. So, I'm re-exploring neighborhoods near the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, with a side trip to Stirling Castle about an hour's drive away. Although we stayed in Edinburgh for a month several years ago, I'm wishing we could go back for at least another month.

Luckily the internet is the mother of all resources. This afternoon's jaunt led me to Deacon Brodie's Tavern in Lawnmarket. They have a scrumptious menu, and a quiet dining area upstairs, a little removed from the bustle of the bar below, and a fascinating back story. Apparently Deacon Brodie was an upstanding merchant who made cabinets and repaired locks during the day, but at night, he became a thief and broke into the wealthiest houses. He was hanged for his crimes in 1788.

Here's a view of the bar at Deacon Brodie's. Now, notice that slogan on the front of the bar that begins "A pledge to Scots . . ." It took a little bit to search out the rest of what is etched just below the bar. I finally found the rest of the quote on Twitter, of all places! Here's the full quote:

"A pledge to Scots: In love and life I hath no fear as I was born of Scottish blood."

Here's where the link to storytelling comes in. My heroine and hero will have a delicious lunch at Deacon Brodie's, most likely upstairs in that quiet dining room. And they'll talk about the original Deacon Brodie as they hunt down the thieves plaguing their museum, who might well be hiding in plain sight, just as Deacon did so long ago.

If you've read my previous historical fiction, you'll remember how Mac McDonnell used to say, "Bend, don't break," a rather useful Scottish proverb when all seems lost, when the only way to get through is to simply be stubborn and persevere.

In this new story, my characters will face down danger, various villains, and  their own doubts as they fall in love. So that statement carved into the front of the bar resonates. Suddenly, I knew what my character would say:

“In love and life, I have no fear,” Sandra whispered.

Meanwhile, more research is needed. For now, I'll remember our apartment overlooking the Writers' Museum at Lady Stair's Close just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. And, there's always Paris.
View of Writers' Museum, Lady Stair's Close, Edinburgh (Camp 2009)

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