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Monday, April 12, 2010

House Hunting

No, I am not moving. I have been house hunting for my characters, and they can be rather picky.

Currently I have a marquess, who lives in Cornwall. He needs an historic manor home, which is scary on the outside. Oh, and the gardens are a bit unkempt. Dealing with an unkempt garden is easy. I can easily see weeds among the roses and lavender in any English Country garden. And when in doubt, I will simply study my own in June.

So, internet, here I come. The resources are endless. First I tried houses for sale in England. Well, I got anything from old houses in the country to flats in the city. Next I searched for vacation homes in England. There were a few more possibilities, but my marquess, he still was not happy. He was also very disturbed to learn his friend’s home had been turned into a Bed and Breakfast. He also told me a few stories of what had gone on in that house, back in his day.

But I digress. We need to return to the task at hand.

I did find an old run down manor that I thought was perfect. However, the marquess pointed out it was in France and he intended to remain in Cornwall. He was rather vehement in his response before he muttered a few words under his breath about that Napoleon across the Channel, which I will not share with your delicate ears.

The search continued and I opted to use my last resort and typed in English Manor House pictures. A link for images came up and voila – we had a number to choose from.

Excuse me for a moment

“My lord, just because I used a French word does not make me a French spy, now would you please look through the photos.”

I apologize, but he is a bit suspicious of everyone. Perhaps it is the living on the coast where only a slight body of water separates him from the enemy that puts him on edge. Anyway, the marquess did eventually settle upon a house, which will be perfect for his home. It can be viewed at: http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A9G_bDvISMJLdFcA0eajzbkF/SIG=1420v5pms/EXP=1271110216/**http%3a//www.highwaygold.co.uk/regional/europe/uk/england/cambs/cambridge/lode/angleseyabbey/house/pic00014.html

Hopefully my marquess will have his story in print one day. Unfortunately I lost about three hours House Hunting so he could find the perfect home.

I’ve kept this link so I can refer back to this photo because it fits my marquess perfectly. Though I don’t stay true to the exact description of the house in the WIP (don’t tell him that), it is my inspiration.

Do you ever look for pictures of settings for inspiration or to refer to when writing descriptions? I know several people who use photos of people for characters, but what about places and things?

Duchess of Decencny a/k/a Real Esate Agent for my Heros


  1. So fun, Amy! I've totally house-hunted for my characters. When we went to London a few years ago, we took about a gajillion pictures and four hours of video footage. So I can just go through my London pics and vids to find my character's homes or pubs they visit, etc... I also use artifacts from the homes/museums we visited to decorate the houses. It's great to have a visual to go on!

    Great post!

  2. I DOOOO!!!! I searched for a certain kind of name for the city, found it and revolved my story around it.

  3. I've done this for every book I've written. I distinctly remember spending hours looking for a specific English castle only to discover it was destroyed in the 17th century. Obviously, I didn't find any pictures!
    With my latest novel, a Civil War YA, this has taken an odd turn. I am obsessed with a book containing the complete photo collection of Matthew Brady. The "homes" in question are the campsites/headquarters of soldiers. Quite a step down from English manors, but fascinating nonethe less. Great blog, Amy!

  4. Boy, do I ever go house hunting for my characters. LOL. And I don't just save the links I find, but I either print out pictures or copy the pictures into a file so I can refer to them often.

    Sometimes, I'll need inspiration for a particular garden, etc. So off I'll go to Google photos.

    For the first series I was working on, I printed up pictures of character inspirations, houses, other buildings, types of flowers - you name it. And then I pasted all of that onto a couple of posterboards that I kept nearby. Then I could refer to them at any time. It was a great way to keep it all straight.

  5. You bet I do! I even spied on a house in Mayfair via Google Earth to get an idea of how large the garden would have been (I wanted to make sure the hero and heroine could get in a little trouble on a dark night).
    What did a 18th century house on the coast of France look like? What is the name of a pub near Eton that would still be around today? I google everything so that I can have a visual of my characters lives :)

    Erin Rieber

  6. I love to have a visual as reference. I don't necessarily use just one house, but elements from lots of sources. Most recently I looked up a graveyard to get an idea of the monuments used in that certain time period. Pretty spooky during the day, so just imagine a night scene.

  7. My first completed ms the town and everything in it was completely made up. I wasn't able to find anything that even remotely looked like what I'd imagined. But with the sequel and other subsequent novels I've used pictures of homes and even an island for my pirate story. So yes, I've used tons of them before. This is the fun part of pre-plotting or so I think. Although, I'm not sure I'll ever find anything for my viking story lol. But who knows I may surprise myself!

    Great blog!

  8. Yep, I'm a visual person...I have to see it. I look up house plans for homes. Right now my wip is a fantasy so I'm studying castle books for the best designs that fit the scenes in my head.

    Since it's not a historical I can pretty much take any of them since they changed century to century.

  9. Amy - I do the same thing! I need to have something to picture in my head. Sometimes it takes longer to find the perfect place than others. I hope your marquess is will be happy with your choice. :)

  10. All the time! I set up folders for each story and copy pictures in so I can refer back to them. If the picture also comes with details about the house then I also save it as a favourite in internet explorer. Hysterical post, Amy!