A Sense of Place in A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary
Donna Fletcher Crow
Writers are often asked, “What’s most important to you— character or plot?”
I always feel that I need to duck my head a bit when I reply, “Well, actually, background is most important to me.” But that’s the truth. Setting is the factor I look at first in choosing a book to read and the first decision I make in planning a new book to write. After all, I’ll be mentally living in that setting for more than a year, so it had better be a place I want to be.
One of my major goals as a writer is to give my readers a “you are there” experience when reading my books. That has to start with my being there— physically when I research and mentally when I write. That way the setting almost becomes a character in the story because I try to develop my settings as carefully as I develop my people. And it certainly drives the plot because I like to let the setting suggest possible events to me.
Oxford Street in the Rain
18 Ship Street
It all began in 2000 when our daughter went off to study Classics at Keble College, Oxford. I quickly fell in love with the history and traditions of the city and university when visiting her there, and all these years later was able to use many of her experiences for my heroine Felicity, who, not so coincidentally, had also read Classics at Keble.
But in A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary Felicity doesn’t start at the university. She’s off to a convent to do a spot of translating for The Sisters of the Love of God in Fairacres, a suburb of Oxford. So that’s where I began my research. The nuns welcomed me to enjoy their garden, worship in their chapel and tour their press. And I managed my time there without ever getting assaulted as Felicity was.
Return tomorrow for the conclusion of Donna's exciting article with fantastic pictures you have to see!