Borrowed the lyric from Daya’s Sit Still, Look Pretty.
I was lucky enough to visit London this summer, if only for a few hours. This was my first visit to the city after writing my Queen trilogy, and I was super excited to check out all the places I had written about over the past few years.
While I didn’t expect to be emotional, sure enough, mixed feelings of excitement and pride (?) welled up on our approach to Heathrow. On a beautiful summer day, I saw the city how Juliette would see it from various points in my books. As she often travels by airship, looking down on the city, I got my first glimpse into what I had only imagined. Is this a thing only authors experience? I looked to my husband, but how could I share what I was feeling? He hadn’t lived the scenes in his head. He hadn’t spent hours writing and editing, dreaming and coordinating over 200,000 words.
After dropping off our luggage at the hotel, on our first afternoon, we walked to Kensington Gardens, a property where Queen Victoria spent much of her youth. In the park, I was able to not only get a picture of my book with a statue of her (former) majesty, but also just to soak up the experience of being in the place where my characters could have been (well, in the 1840s, at least). I didn’t expect to be (again) emotional, but after countless hours of research, faced with this iconic monarch, the weight of everything hit me.
Writing is such a solitary endeavor. Sure, I’ve been doing it for years, but somehow, being at places where my characters went, spoke, fought, and fell in love was such a wonderful way to spend a few hours.
The following morning we went to Westminster (the location of Queen Juliette’s disastrous coronation). As I walked the roads she was fictionally carried through, to the banks of the Thames where she was kidnapped… Well, I’m sure there’s a word in another language to describe the depth of my feelings, but I can’t really think of one in English.
As I move to finish the final draft of the final book of the trilogy (157 pages out of 205), I feel very fortunate to have visited many of the locations in the books. While I might not get to all of the places, the trip in July was a special moment to walk a few kilometers in Juliette’s shoes.
Of course, after finishing The Queen of England: Ascension, I’ll start editing a more contemporary novel, and it’s my hope that return trips to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Macau and Paris are in my future. Before Under a Rain of Light comes out I’ll do what I can to get where I can, but for now I’m content to have return visits to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.