A Different Perspective

Sometimes, instead of looking at things in the cold light of day, it can be good to look at them in the darkness of night. 

My characters in my book will be travelling up the Seine in the thick of night, in freezing cold waters with soldiers looking for them.

My characters will be in waters like these

I know being on a cruise boat isn’t quite the same thing, but I decided to take a cruise to experience the sights sounds and smells of the river at night.

I sat up front in the open so I could breathe in the atmosphere.

The humming of the boat’s motor, the smell of the water, the swish of waves against the hull, the shouts of voices from the river bank.

A place takes on a whole different personna at night.

Seasons and time of day really make a difference to pace and mood of a story so I’d certainly recommend standing (or sitting) in your story world at different times to experience how the setting changes.

Hope you enjoy my Paris at night pics. 

Happy writing 🙂

Dee

This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria 

Advertisements

Full Circle

As my research trip to Paris enters its last week *sob*, I’ve been reflecting on what an amazing experience this has been.

I also have to pinch myself. I wanted to be a writer since I was seven years-old, and here I am in Paris researching for a book I’m writing. The kind of book I always wanted to write about truth and history and humanity.

I have met so many wonderful people here, heard stories that are ‘beyond belief’ and enjoyed blue Parisian skies almost every day. 

I’ve been into a mosque, a synagogue and a church. I’ve been humbled by the kindness of people and their willingness to help me with my story.

My new Parisian friend, Laetitia

I emailed the sewer tour people at des égouts de Paris to let them know I would be in Paris doing research for a book. And they have been truly amazing. They organised an English speaking guide, Laetitia who was so kind and so interested in my story.

After my tour of the sewers, she gave me a day of her time to help with my research, acting as a personal interpreter and guide. She speaks French, English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Arabic and her assistance was invaluable. I could never have uncovered the information and stories that I did without her.

I will be leaving Paris having made a true friend.

Being in Paris, researching a book I’m passionate about has been a dream come true. I’ve been so lucky with the people who have supported me in this … my long-suffering husband, research assistant, translator and all round wonderful guy, Michael.

And it was serendipitous to catch up with my Year 10 English teacher, Jenny Cosh, who just happened to be in Paris at the same time.

She was the one who believed in me and encouraged my writing career from when I was in high school, when becoming a writer was being actively discouraged at home because  ‘writing wasn’t a real job’.

Here I am living the writer’s dream … and I have been able to share it with the English teacher who encouraged me to have that dream. How lucky am I? How great are English teachers? For me, catching up with Jenny felt like things had come full circle.

It’s funny how important people in your life can turn up in the most unexpected places.

Has this ever happened to you on your writing journey?

Another big research day today, but more about that later.

Happy writing 🙂

Dee

This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria 

Paris Secrets

I’m sad about what has happened in this beautiful city over recent days.

Paris is such an amazing place and there are so many picture postcard views and sights, wonderful people and opportunities to experience the diverse culture.

But it’s still a city like any other. There are well told tales and events in history, but you can walk past places and not even realise there are stories buried deep beneath the stonework, events that are now just a remnant in the ground.

Exploring history takes you to many distant and dark places, but it also reveals great tales of courage and hope.

Vélodrome d’Hiver

On 16 and 17 July 1942, 4,115 children, 2,916 women and 1,129 men were arrested and kept at Vélodrome d’Hiver in inhumane conditions by the Vichy government police, on the orders of the Nazi occupiers. They were later deported to Auschwitz where they were murdered.

Apartment building on the old site of the Vélodrome d’Hiver

Vélodrome d’Hiver, july 1942
source photo : Yad Vashem Photo Archive
crédit photo : D.R

The Grand Mosque of Paris

Behind these walls, in the sanctuary of this tranquil place, many Jewish lives were saved. The Jews who came or were brought here were given food and shelter. They were provided with fake documents marked ‘Muslim’ so they would not be harmed by the Vichy government police.

This was a spontaneous act of humanity by the Muslims who lived at the mosque, and the Muslims of France. People who acted simply because they cared about other human beings regardless of race or religion.

… if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” – Quran 5:32

The Vel D’Hiv Roundup

Behind this door, the lists were produced of Jews – men, women and children to be arrested and deported.

The Resistance

This peaceful marketplace was once the scene of torture for members of the Resistance.

Three doctors at this hospital risked their lives to provide members of the Resistance with medical supplies and treatment.

The Synagogue

Behind these doors is a beautiful temple of worship for people of the Jewish faith.

According the smiling lady who kindly allowed us to see inside, people slept at this synagogue during WW11 to protect it from harm.

Paris is a city throbbing with people and life. A city with so much history, beauty and sadness.

It’s a city rich with layers and inspiration for writers and other artists.

It’s a city well worth exploring beyond The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower and other popular places.

Being here is certainly enriching my understanding and adding layers of meaning to my story.

Happy writing and researching 🙂

Dee

This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria 

 

 

Standing in the World of My Story – The Grand Mosque of Paris

The Grand Mosque of Paris, located in the 5th arrondissement stands 33 metres high and is one of the largest mosques in France. It was so amazing to see it for the first time, the building at the centre of my story, Beyond Belief, a building that I’d only seen in pictures until now.

How incredible it was to view the crisp white domes, and the emerald green tiles that ran through the courtyard like a calming river.

I imagined my character Ruben playing there with his friends, splashing in the fountains, and digging in the garden to plant new vegetable crops.

What an oasis it must have been for those who took shelter there in WW11, away from the cattle trucks crammed with people, roaring past on the Plus du Place du Puits de l’ermite.

The mosque is completely fenced off with huge wooden or iron gates that would have been difficult to penetrate for even the most determined Nazis.

Towering over it is the stunning mosaic covered Minaret where the muezzin calls the people to prayer. I could feel the power of the mosque to calm and protect.

Sitting on the steps in the courtyard and reading over my notes, I immersed myself in the peace around me.

The blue sky of Paris stretched out overhead, broken by old buildings and a tree standing straight and tall in the gardens of the nearby Jardin des Plantes.

There’s nothing quite like being in the actual world of your story … feeling, seeing and smelling those things that your character would experience.

I’d come nearly 17,000 kilometres to do this, and it was certainly worth it.

My first visit to the Grande Mosquée de Paris was incredible and I’m sure it won’t be my last for the month that I am here in Paris.

There’s nothing quite like standing or sitting in the world of your story.

If you’ve shared a similar experience, please feel free to share it in the comments below.

Happy writing:)

Dee

This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria