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Here is the type of boat aboard which I saw Arka arriving in Gokstad before the beginning of the story. It is the Marité, the last of the ‘Terre Neuviers’: boats that sailed from France to Canada to fish for cod in the Atlantic. It arrived here in Granville for a refit on 14 May. At the quay I got to talking with a man whose father had worked on maintaining these boats in the 1920s. In those days both Granville and St Malo, further down the coast boasted a whole fleet of these sleek ocean-going fishers.

It got me thinking to how much I use visualisation when writing. If I can’t ‘see’ the scene in my mind’s eye I find it difficult to write. The same goes for my characters: I need to have a picture of their face, their general shape, the way they stand, how they walk in order to make them ‘live’ in the story. People have asked if I have based my characters on real people. The answer is yes and no. I often use real people to create the images of my characters, but their mannerisms and personalities are uniquely theirs. Almost as if the person I had in mind was acting the part of the character in the story.

For settings, I think it is really important to have a picture in mind, not least for consistency. The software I use has a database of settings that be used to record details, such as the layout of the furniture in a room, the position of doors and windows. I’m not sure, but I hope the level of detail adds depth to the narrative. The same goes for character traits. I often find myself asking ‘would so-and-so really have said that?’ or ”wouldn’t he find that irritating?’ I think I must be at a nice stage of writing as I am still enjoying the company of my characters. It will be time to stop when I get bored with them.