Souvenirs de Carcassonne

I have just sorted out my photographs of Carcassonne. It has been quite revealing to see what I wanted to capture and what I recall best. For me, it has shown up recurrent obsessions that are reflected in my writing.


As you know from last week’s post, I’ve been itching to go to Carcassonne for quite some while – and it isn’t all Kate Mosse’s fault. I have long had a hankering for the medieval: my A level Art project was Women’s Costume 1340-1485 ( which I believe I still have lurking somewhere complete with a picture of nobles listening to Chaucer) and I’m a bit of an Early Music fan too. I am hopelessly wrong but romantic – I don’t actually mind that Eugène Viollet-le-Duc ‘restored’ things in his own way. I love the world he conjured, even if it never quite existed.

I think it’s safe to assert that I won’t be writing contemporary social realism.

There I am walking round and my inner child is fighting off dragons, repelling besiegers and generally having an Errol Flynn sort of time. I can’t wait to get onto the battlements, peer through arrow slits and charge along the wooden galleries. (Did you know they were covered with animal hides to prevent fire?) I take many a panorama of La Cité in its setting and daydream about minstrels travelling along the banks of the Aude.

You might just guess from that I Iike action and adventure, and I aspire to big books with lots of scope. I am no Jane Austen.

I have lots of shots of gargoyles and grotesques. I love them. I love the craftsmen’s humour, their attention to detail and the edge of darkness it shows. I have also focused on decay, on the derelict and the hidden. There are glimpses of funeral wreaths inside crypts, flaking shutters and half-open doors. I am terminally nosey. I want to know what happens behind the façades. What are the secrets, where have the lost souls gone?

I’d suggest you don’t read my work if you want only sunny fun and bonhomie. Expect creepiness.

Even my water passion got a look in – it astonished me how delighted I was that I could hear the Aude purling over its weirs from our little room. I so enjoyed crossing the Pont Vieux and walking along the Canal du Midi too. Just the little waterspouts that worked made me want to clap my hands.

So there we have it: my books are likely to be set in an invented world that evokes our past, involve a fair bit of action, contain a good dose of weirdness and at least a splatter of the wet stuff.

I think that’s fair.

What about you – do your holiday snaps reflect your writing?

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