it's all very well and good to post here about star-crossed seals and Eurovision, but if this is going to be a true procrastinatory tool, I suppose I should start doing it properly.
You see, I'm writing another book. A novel. And I spose this blog is as good a tool as any to a) try out some ideas on the unsuspecting readers; b) pretend I know what I'm talking about and c) procrastinate from actually writing said novel.
So the dilemma I'm faced with today, is that my character (her name is Hannah) has just arrived in Rio. She's never been there before. Neither have I. So far we have stuff in common. What we don't have in common, is that I live in 2006, and she lives in an unspecified year around about 1814.
So my first task is to figure out what the hell Rio looks like now. So we go to Flickr.
(thanks to The Mighty Jimbo for his lovely photo)
Looks purty. I also go to Google Earth and Wikipedia, just to figure out exactly where her ship would have anchored and all that. Then I'll just take out all the big buildings, and be generally vague.
I have this lovely playlist for writing this book, with inspiring floaty, soulful things like Bach and Bjork and David Bridie and Vangelis. Except what I have stuck in my head is I Go To Rio, sung by The Muppets.
Then I have this fantastic idea that she should be eating some kind of tropical fruit. This will serve a few different purposes. One is to just generally give an exotic feeling of tropical authenticity. Another is because she has been practically starving eating dried meat and crap on a boat for three months, and I'm feeling sorry for her. Finally, it will be the instigator for a Rather Important Dramatic Moment, which I am not going to disclose (but as a clue: I told my mum, and she said "eewww... Is that actually possible?").
So of course I have to figure out what kind of tropical fruit she is eating. It can't be anything too exotic, but exotic enough that it's foreign to her. She doesn't know what it's called, so it has to be something the reader can recognise. Back I go to Wikipedia.
Orange? Nope. Introduced to Europe in the 15th century. Plus, they're from India, not South America. But I do learn that the colour orange is named for the fruit, not the other way around.
Banana? Also from India. And while exotic, bananas were available in Europe. No good. I need something she's never seen before. But did you know that Alexander the Great ate his first banana in 327BC? Bananas rank fourth after rice, wheat and maize in global human consumption. And they're a herb (in the botanical sense. That means they don't have a woody stem, and they are either annual and perennial. Like daffodils.)
Hmm. Pineapples and passionfruit are too hard to get into. Lychees, papaya and guava are too exotic.
Mango? It's from the same family as poison ivy. The Indians call it the food of the gods. Bugger, another bloody Indian fruit. Does any actual fruit grow in South America? Does South America even exist??? Has anyone ever actually BEEN there???
However, it was introduced and cultivated in the Americas by the Portugese as early as the 17th century. Rio is a Portugese city. They would have had mangos. I also learn that paisley (the design) is inspired by the mango.
Mango it is. Now the only challenge is to write about a young girl enjoying a mango without it sounding... well, dirty.