I have three books on Welsh folklore coming to me in about ten minutes, but in the meantime I am haunting the workstations at the National Library of Wales. Eeee! The book geek in me is in ecstasy here.

We got into Aberystwyth last night about three hours after we were actually supposed to arrive, but my WORD this place is gorgeous. The scenery on the way in was pretty dismal from Horley up to Birmingham and beyond -- the backs of factories, a few meagre pastures, the worst end of every village we passed, and everywhere red brick, red brick, red brick. But as soon as we approached Wales... it was like travelling into Middle-Earth, and just got more so once we crossed the Welsh border.

I'd thought on my last visit that north Wales was the most beautiful place on the whole trip, but mid-Wales is almost as beautiful, if not more so. I had a moment of panic when we passed through Borth, which is on a flat coastal plain and looks like a Newfoundland fishing village (and not in the good way), but then the hills came back again and suddenly we were in Aberystwyth which turned out to be delightful... but I can't really do it justice in description, I'll post pictures when I get back.

Anyway, as you can tell I'm having great fun, thanks for your comments and good wishes on the last post!
Thanks to train delays and some sort of booking error, we missed our connection to Aberystwyth and can't catch another train for a couple of hours, so here I am in Birmingham at an internet cafe, having a rather splendid time. And this actually works out perfectly because I needed to research this area, so now I have time to do it properly!

Based on my limited Internet research I had been led to believe that Birmingham New Street station and the area around it was a bit of a dump, but that just goes to show the importance of firsthand experience, because it is quite a sophisticated and attractive shopping area and there's nothing particularly dumpy about the station (inside, at least) at all. I don't know yet how much (if any) of Wayfarer is going to take place here, but at least now I have a mental picture (and some photos too) to guide me if need be...

The trains this morning were quite pleasant too, though the one from Redhill to Reading was a bit smelly and grotty compared to the others. Local colour? We stayed last night in Horley, just a few minutes outside of Gatwick -- all the houses there were made of rusty-colored brick with roofs of moldering gray slate and the town as a whole wasn't especially attractive, but we found a rather nice pub called the Six Bells where we had an excellent meal.

Our train to Aberystwyth leaves in half an hour so I will have to sign off now and get back to the station, but I'm glad I could post this to let you all know (like you were all sitting there biting your nails and worrying -- heh) that I've arrived safely in the UK and that all is going well so far! I hope to post again later in the week.

Books bought today, courtesy of Waterstone's:
- Philip Reeve's Here Lies Arthur and Starcross
- Eva Ibbotson's A Company of Swans

TTFN!
So originally I thought I was doing this research trip to the south of England and west Wales in late October, and it would be the off-season so finding accommodation would be easy and there was plenty of time to make plans.

Now it looks like we're doing it in mid-to-late August, and... not so much. Especially as it seems unavoidable that we'll be there over the dreaded Bank Holiday weekend.

I am, frankly, overwhelmed. Flights aren't a problem, but once we get into Gatwick, my planning brain freezes.

I know London is ridiculously expensive to stay in, so I was thinking it'd be better to take the train out of London and find a B&B in some pleasant town in Kent, although I am not entirely sure which. Any suggestions from those in the know? We'll need easy access to a train station, so we can get back into London on a couple of day trips, but it would be nice to travel a bit around Kent as well.

I'd like to visit Squerryes Court in Westerham, on which my fictional "Waverley Hall" is partly based; I've had my eye on Eynsford in Dartford as a possible location for the village nearest to where the McCormicks (and the Oakenfolk) live. But other than that, I know nothing, and would be glad of recommendations for other nice places in the area that we ought to visit or where we might stay overnight without utterly impoverishing ourselves (and which can be easily accessed using public transportation, please -- I don't think we'll rent a car until we get to Wales).

After we've spent 3-4 days touring Kent and visiting London, I'd like to take a train to the Cardigan Bay area of Wales and do some touring around there before we return to London and fly back home. Again, any suggestions for what we should see (or avoid) in that area?

Thanks for any help you can offer...

ETA: By "we" I mean "my husband and I", as we will not be taking our kids on this journey. So we'd only be needing a double or twin room, no "family" accommodations or attractions. Thanks.
So let's say that you are writing a book set in some faraway and unfamiliar location, and you are seriously considering taking a trip over to said exotic locale for the purposes of research. You have approximately twelve months before the book is due in to your editor. (You also have three young children and a husband whose work has intensely busy seasons in April-May and September-October, but we'll try not to overcomplicate things.) At what point in the writing process would it be best to plan said trip? I put it to you in the form of a poll:

[Poll #1158658]
I would especially value the input of fellow authors who have recently done this kind of thing -- did you wish you'd gone earlier in the process? Later? Any other words of wisdom to impart about research trips and what to do or not do when embarking on one?

X-posted from [livejournal.com profile] fangs_fur_fey.

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] dichroic asked where this faraway, exotic location might be -- for my purposes I'd be looking at parts of Kent, London, and the Cardigan Bay area of Wales.
I'm not dead, truly... just doggedly writing 2000 words a day, every day, and using what little time I have left to catch up on what other people are saying in their journals -- which leaves me precious little time to post anything new to my own. Would you prefer I ignored you lovely people in order to grace you with my dubious wit? I thought not. :)

Anyway, Touching Indigo is progressing quite well so far -- in just ten days of writing I've managed to crank out 22,000 words. I have yet to diverge in any dramatic way from the outline, but I've still surprised myself a few times, which is gratifying -- it bodes well for me being able to get through the whole story without boring myself to death. In the past, the fear of losing interest in the story was always my chief excuse for not outlining. So that seems to indicate that answer to my original question, "Can a Pantser become a Plotter?" is a yes... but I'll have to reserve final judgment for the revision stage.

It sucks how much research I have to do for this story, though. In one sense it's fascinating, but on the other hand it leaves me petrified about the ever-increasing chances of getting something wrong. It would take me years to become an expert in any of the relevant areas, so my best hope at present is to finish the book and then find a criminal lawyer, a neurologist, a policeman, and someone who's worked at a psychiatric hospital to read it and tell me where I've screwed up. Oh, and an astrophysicist and a synaesthete, but thankfully I already have both of those (*bows gratefully to Doug and Erin*).

Tomorrow I'll be sending my one-paragraph hook for Indigo to the [livejournal.com profile] fangs_fur_fey contest -- I've made a few modifications since I posted it here, and I dare to hope they are all for the better. But I guess I'll find out on the 23rd whether I'm right.

Still no news from Boss of Editor, or from Agent. Alas.
Could one of my brilliant librarian friends tell me what the Daily Telegraph (UK) headline was for October 7, 1983? I'm pretty sure it was the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, but I'm looking for the exact wording, and I can't seem to find the information online.

ETA: Never mind. I've just cut that paragraph from the final revision anyway.
...you're writing a scene set in a country your book never names, taking place at a time you never specify, and you find yourself looking up newspaper headlines, phases of the moon, and days of the week to be sure you've got them right.
Two excellent posts on the pitfalls and triumphs of researching fiction, from [livejournal.com profile] tightropegirl:

How Research Leads to Nihilism (with spoilers for some recent House episodes and, to my delight, an old episode of Doctor Who), and Research, Part Two a.k.a. The Three Big Cheats. It's long (especially the first part), but all of it is worth reading, whether you're a writer doing research, a professional or academic who likes to nitpick shows and books based on your field, or simply an interested viewer who sometimes wonders where scriptwriters get all this stuff.
It's not finding a suitable disease that's the problem when researching for House fanfic -- there are tons of them out there. It's the differential diagnosis stuff that'll drive you nuts, because then you have to research a whole bunch of other diseases as well. And if, like me, you really don't like research to begin with and find yourself easily frustrated not knowing where to start (or stop, for that matter)... well, all there is to say is "urgh".

However, I think I managed to get through the worst of it today. I have several pages of scribbled notes (my handwriting is really unspeakable these days, it's pathetic how seldom I pick up a pen any more) and a whole bunch of ideas floating around in my brain.

And if this sounds suspiciously like I'm working on a sequel to "Galatea", then, um... you might be right about that.
Not for any particular deep reason, except for me to have a record of them in case I need them in a fic...

SYDNEY: Was Freelancer up until middle of S2, now Mountaineer (I do not get the significance of either of these, personally)

VAUGHN: Boy Scout (*rolls eyes*)

WEISS: Retriever (so. perfect.)

JACK: Watchtower (ditto)

We now return you to your regular programming.

Oh, and HP? I haven't forgotten about it. Not entirely, anyway. Still waiting for the word from [livejournal.com profile] conventionalley on my Snape proposal...

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