Showing posts from March, 2021

How to describe places: my research technique

My first visit to Iceland was going to be very different from the book tour in 1995. This time I had to build up a store of the impressions, the feelings, the sounds, the smell and the little details to fuel my writing of the first draft of my novel over a six-month period. Research Technique I had researched many settings for my previous novels — Fife, Brazil, Massachusetts, Prague, Clerkenwell, the Cote d’Azur, Wyoming, South Africa and 1930s Berlin — so I knew what I was doing, but I was daunted. Before, most of my characters had been flying in and out of places. This time Magnus and my characters were stuck in Iceland for at least three books, maybe more. I had better get it right. Over the years, I have developed and refined a method for gathering information on locations for my books. I wander around with a tape recorder, a camera and a notebook, my eyes and ears on high alert, taking note of anything I see or hear that might be useful. I use the tape recorder most, muttering in

One degree of separation: Icelandic society

Magnus is an Icelander and an American, which can be confusing for the poor guy.   He has to fit in.  But fit into what? What is Icelandic society like?   Icelandic Women Tucked into that per-capita list in my last post, was ‘gender equality’.  The generalisation goes that women are tough, independent and well-educated in Iceland.  Although they are not paid the same as men, pay is closer than in other countries.  Iceland had the first elected female president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir who was elected in 1980.    The success of women is ascribed by some to the fact that many were left alone to manage while their husbands went away to sea.  Some say that having children early helps.  Women will often have their first child while still at university, which means that when they are in their early thirties they have older children and are able to struggle with men on equal terms on the career ladder.   On Friday 24 October 1975, Icelandic women went on strike for a day, refusing to go to wor