Paris – Day 1

I’ve arrived in Paris to work on Beyond Belief, my novel about the Muslims from the Paris Mosque who saved the lives of Jewish children during WW2.

I’m here for a month thanks to a VicArts grant that will meet most of my travel and accommodation costs.

Yesterday, I reached my destination around 4.30pm, too weary unfortunately to enjoy Saturday night in Paris (but there will be plenty more) 🙂

So amazing to look out of the 4th storey window and watch the passing parade … lovers deep in conversation, one clutching a huge bunch of flowers. A small boy with a scooter whose mother, her arms laden with shopping, couldn’t quite catch him.
Across the road, I watched another small child and his father tending their balcony garden. The sun was out and people seemed happy here.

Even the taxi driver from the airport, Joseph was still smiling, despite the fact that my plane was 90 minutes late.

It was so lovely to lie in bed and listen to the sounds around me … a jolly Saturday evening with people singing and making harmless merriment in the streets.

Today … more Paris immersion … the shouts of the fishmonger trying to divest himself of the last produce before closing time,  the roar of a motorbike speeding down our narrow street … and the honking of impatient motorists eager to reach their destinations. The scent of the first blossoms of spring, are wafting onto the balcony as I write.

There are lots of markets in Paris

Today is also research planning day.

Beyond Belief is set in a dark time in world history, but it’s also a story of hope and humanity … where regardless of race or religion, people reached out and risked their own lives to help others.

The research will not be easy so my plan is to take it in small stages that I can manage both physically and emotionally.

My trip to Paris is all about immersing myself in the reality of my main character, Ruben’s story … of going to the places he went … of trying to understand how his life would have been in Paris with the ever present fear that soldiers would take him and he would never see his family and friends again.

Research can be overwhelming. It can be easy to get lost in it both physically … and emotionally … to be so focussed on the trail of fact that you never get to write your story.

So today I’m planning my research in advance – working out exactly what I need to find out … and where I have to go. Here’s the list of places I plan to visit:

  • The Paris mosque
  • The sewer tour
  • The Bercy wine market
  • A cruise down the river Seine
  • The site of the Velodrome d’Hiver where more than 11,000 Jewish people were held after the Vel d’Hive round up while awaiting transportation to concentration camps
  • Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation- a memorial to the 200,000 people who were deported from Vichy France to the Nazi concentration camps during World War II
  • Shoah Memorial Museum
  • Le Jardin des Plantes

Ruben is a fictional character, but I owe it to the real people who lived and died during this terrible time, to tell their stories.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me.

If you have any research tips or comments I’d love you to share them.

Happy writing 🙂


This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria 


13 thoughts on “Paris – Day 1

  1. Wow, Dee already your words and images conjure up so many dormant memories of our years living in the old town of Antibes. Viva la France! Good luck with the planning and immersing. Slowly slowly catch that monkey. D x

  2. Hi Dee,
    Thanks so much for sharing your research journey in Paris. Can’t wait to hear and see what you learned at each destination point. Thanks for writing this book which will share much light on this dark time in history.
    Take care, Karen Tyrrell author x

  3. LOL, not quite. Perhaps you might like to set a story in South America one day…;-)

  4. Hi Dee.

    I can’t wait to hear of your trip. But, most of all, the heart wrenching, and heroic stories that you are bound to come across. Your story will be incredibly rich because of all the research you are doing.

  5. I am always impressed with how methodical you are, in all that you approach, Dee. Research is a funny beast. Sometimes we have to uncover so much, just so we can write authentically – with only a small portion of the research actually appearing in the story. But without the whole… no story. (Well, for me, anyway.)

  6. I find that research gets out of control very easily if you’re not at least a little methodical 🙂 I totally agree, we always uncover so much more than what we include in our writing, but we need soul as well as manuscript food … and sometimes a tiny morsel uncovered can become a major influence or symbol for our writing. That’s what I’m blogging about in my next post 🙂 Definitely need all the research for the whole story. I don’t think research is ever wasted … but it can be a tool of procrastination.

  7. I’m so glad you get this opportunity to do this research. It will change your life in amazing ways. And I hope you have a great time in Paris, too. You’ll need the fun stuff to deal with the dark side. You’re in my prayers. Keep letting us know how you go. I love your images.

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