Sunday, April 26, 2009

Random Luck

It was just random luck that I got to use this beautifully weird little church in the current book ("Slightly Foxed and the Case of the London Dragonfish" due out from Catnip Books this time next year). I needed a red herring (the book is the first in a series of detective stories, after all) - my fiendish bad guy needed to make a really difficult riddle (I did say he was fiendish) - and I wanted everybody to end up at the Old Spirit Building that used to be behind the Natural History Museum - so All Souls was the obvious choice. (You may have to read the book for this to really make sense - meantime, just trust me.) If this church hadn't existed, I would have had to invent it but, as it does, Random Luck, I thank you.

The other entity that I'd like to thank is James Hatton, an extremely pleasant and useful member of the Archives team at the NHM. I had a FABULOUS morning getting to look at the things he ferreted out for me - the original architect's plans for the Spirit Building, photos of the displays in the Central Hall in the 1890s, the Guide Books from then - even the Trustees' minutes, beautifully written (as in penned) and full of fascinating details like the £7. they spent on a Somali Warthog's head and tons of other things that I won't be able to shoehorn into THIS book but will squirrel away for some other one.

Blisters aside, London was great - fun AND productive. And when I finish Book One it's on to Glasgow! ("Slightly Foxed and the Case of the Glasgow Ghoul" in case you were wondering.) And that's another story ...

Cheers, Joan.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

All Souls' Church

I'm off to London next week to do some on-the-ground research for the first book of the Slightly Foxed series (Slightly being a feisty Victorian girl detective, and her first case being in London). And one of the places I'm particularly excited about going to see is All Souls' Church. This is partly because it features in the dastardly plans of my bad guy - and partly because I love how weird and quirky it looks. The architect was John Nash and his design came in for some seriously rude remarks when it was built. For example, a reviewer for The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction August 2, 1828, said

"To our eye, the church itself, apart from the tower, (for such it almost is) is perhaps, one of the most miserable structures in the metropolis,—in its starved proportions more resembling a manufactory, or warehouse, than the impressive character of a church exterior; an effect to which the Londoner is not an entire stranger."

And in March 1824, during a House of Commons debate, one of the MPs described the church as "this deplorable and horrible object."

Like the ugliest puppy in the pet shop, I expect I will lose my heart to this "horrible object" - I'll let you know when I get home again next week.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

To See What ...

... I'm fussing about this week, go to An Awfully Big Blog Adventure!

Cheers, Joan.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Mma Makutsi's Glasses

Does this have anything to do with writing? No, it doesn't. But do I love Mma Makutsi's glasses, as seen in BBC's TV series of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency? Yes, I do.

I'm due an eye test in a couple of weeks, and chances are, I'll need new glasses. The getting-narrower-by-the-day style does not suit me (let's face it, when the bags under your eyes hang down below your glasses, you know they're not for you.) But Grace Makutsi's glasses might just be the perfect pair for me. Here's the link to a picture, if you can't immediately bring them to mind, or if you haven't seen the series. (It's a better photo of the actress than her glasses, but it's the best one I can find.)

For years I used to hanker after my old, old NHS John Lennon style glasses, but now, my heart is set on finding something else.

As my mother once said, How are the fickle changed ...

So if anyone out there has seen these glasses in any Scottish optician's, please let me know!