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 🙂
My research trip to Paris has been made possible thanks to the generous support of VicArts.