So back in September 2012, I sat down at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table to start figuring out the super-hairy, nitty-gritty details about the world in which Eden lives before she gets drawn into Under-London. Through a whole maze of choices and a crap-ton of wandering about on the street-view on Google Maps, I wound up placing her in South London, just a bit away from the Peckham-Rye station.
While looking for pictures of Peckham to start building it in my mind’s eye (because, lbrh, I’m too broke to go there myself), I stumbled across a really neat street art piece (above) featuring a raven (well, a black bird of some sort, at least).
Fast forward to now, 8 June 2016. Last week, I realised I wanted to feature this mural in an upcoming scene, because Reasons. So today I investigated, tried to find out more information about this thing, seeing where it was located, and what might take Eden by it for her to see it. (Because, y’know, reasons.)
The pin denotes the Bussey building, the courtyard of which hosts this mural.
Turns out, the Bussey building is home to the CLF Art Cafe, a multi-purpose… thing that hosts all sorts of music and theatre events in its spaces, as well as dance parties and who-knows-what-else.
Back on that nasty-rainy day in 2012, I placed Eden and co. on Moncrieff St, mainly because
- I liked the name of the road (ever a Wilde nerd, me)
- it was within very easy walking distance to Peckham Rye Station
- featured a neat little lane to walk down, and
- the houses there seemed like the right fit. (I could tell you the street-viewed house I “picked” to be hers, but that might be creepy, since real people probably really live there).
See that grey little line that goes from Rye Ln near the McDonald’s? Follow it. It goes to Moncrieff St. It’s the exact little lane I’ve written her walking down in unused scenes from those early drafts.
OH MY HOLY CRAP THAT’S BEAUTIFUL.
You guys may not find it as exciting, but I got electric zingles when I realised what sort of coincidence it was.
The beautiful thing, the reasons I do this sort of stuff, is because it helps me build setting and scenery of course, but it also helps me know what she’s doing, how little non-plotty-events help shape what happens in the plot.
Take today’s discovery, for instance: now that I know I need her to see this thing, and that she’s going to be walking around when she sees it, she’s probably going to be going home from some sort of event. The event itself isn’t what I’m writing about of course, but it gives her a direction to come from, which is the bit I needed. Ironically, given the title of this post, it’s just a little too coincidental to have her just happen to wander around, and then just happen to see this mural for the reasons I just happen to need her to do so.
So, knowing where she’s coming from, that lets me know exactly how to paint her mood; how to build the tone of the scene, the schematics of point-A-to-point-B. It can tell me who might be with her when she sees it, or else what may happen on the way home, if anything does.
(One caveat: this mural was done in 2011; the story takes place in 2013. Due to the ephemeral nature of street art, it *may* not be there, but given its size, it looks like a commissioned piece that’s probably stuck around. I’m basing what I write on that assumption.)
No, not every story needs this level of research and detail. Not every author needs it. I need it because I am a disgustingly meticulous nerd who needs as much help as I can get.
You should see my bookmarked links folder for this story alone. Hell, the research I have for some of the fanfic I’ve written have required building entire appendices and thoroughly poring over timelines from the beginning of recorded civilization. The folder for the Under-London ‘verse includes about 60 links, and that’s not even counting the hundreds more I’ve dug through in the past 4 years that didn’t merit saving.
I don’t know what I would’ve done in the days before the Internet, honestly.
But yes! Today is a happy, fortuitous day. I love it when junk like this comes together.