Location, Location…or Things That Never Happened in America

Dunkeld CathedralAs a fantasy writer I like to think that I have an active imagination, yet I find the value of first-hand experience immeasurable. I’ve climbed mountains and forded streams, swam glacial lakes, hiked through ancient forests, narrow gorges, mountain passes and napped in alpine meadows. I’ve shot a bow, swung a sword and thrown an axe, camped in snow, started fires with flint and steel, sailed, canoed and rode (horses) – all in America.

The USA is rich in geological diversity and if you are adventurous enough to seek them out, nature’s gems are not hard to find. I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy many of the experiences I write into my stories, however, despite the wealth of environmental references there is a dearth of urban ones.

Fate conspired to bring me to Edinburgh, Scotland seven years ago, and I’ll be damned if there isn’t a castle right in the centre of town! Not only in Scotland – although I am spoiled for choice here – but the entire UK is awash with the very inspirational sites and ruins that fired the imaginations of every medieval romanticist and revivalist of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Case-in-point: yesterday, my wife and I hopped a train up to Dunkeld, a town about two hours north of Edinburgh. The small town is a treasure trove of resources, from the ruined cathedral (pictured) to the ancient forest of the Hermitage and beautiful bridge built by Thomas Telford.

My current book is set in a fictionalised Dunkeld, and with so many real-life references, all that is needed is a dash of imagination and the story emerges in vivid detail. This is something that could not happen in America – the country of my birth is too young. As a fantasy author I count myself fortunate to have access to such a wealth of reference material, but all of this is nothing without writing talent – and that is something for readers to judge. If nothing else, at least I’ve shared the experiences of my characters. Now, if I can only find myself an elf…

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~ by oblivionrising on September 14, 2009.

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