Believe it or not one of the books I find most useful is the Macquarie Dictionary. When looking for a spelling I’ll often come across a word I’ve never encountered before and that can begin the process of interrogating ideas and relationships I hadn’t thought about before. I usually just jot the word down immediately, go back to my writing or editing and come back to my newfound gem later.
Because I’m often writing about places outside Australia Google Earth’s street views can be very useful, especially when I’m doing urban descriptions. However, this only works for contemporary fiction.
I’ve found Professor Norman Davies’ two books, Europe: A History and The Isles: A History, a rich vein to be mined, particularly as both come with comprehensive indices.
Here’s my in-the-zone tips:
- I don’t always write in the same place. I try to get out and write in libraries, cafes, etc as this takes me away from the washing up and has a tendency to break any stale patterns.
- At certain points in my writing I’ll listen to music – instrumental – nothing with lyrics in English. When I wrote The Stone Crown I listened to The Celts until I was sick of it. Now, working on some historical fantasy, it’s baroque chamber music.
- I normally have a couple of projects on the go in case I get stuck and then I can switch between them in the hope that down time on one will result in inspiration when I return to that particular manuscript.
Malcolm Walker is the Communications Officer at SAWC and the author of The Stone Crown, his first young adult novel, which is a partial reworking of the Arthurian legend and was published by Walker Books Australia in 2008 and was released in the UK November 2009. He is also the editor of our magazine, Southern Write.