Real Time Inspiration

I recently changed my home base for Evensong from Toronto to Montreal. A random decision, but after I made it I realised how perfect it is. Not only does the city click with my characters, but it also gave me a great opportunity to do some hands-on location scouting for the sequel (yes, there is a sequel. No doubt you’ll all be hearing lots and lots about it. Apologies in advance)!

Montreal is one of my favourite places to visit. Not only is the shopping fantabulous–although, I was a very good girl and limited my spending to food. ohmigod cake. I also need to give a shout out to this incredible cafe/bakery where I stopped for breakfast in Old Montreal called Olive & Gourmando–the culture is unique and the historical aesthetic is gorgeous.  As chance would have it, I’d just finished reading Two Solitudes by Hugh McClennan, so my tour also got to bring to life a lot of that story as well.

I went there with certain goals in mind: Seek out Jeff’s and Cassie’s apartment, visualise some scenes that take place in the first part of the book, and track down Rockaberry: the pie shop. In less than 48 hours, I succeeded.

Right across from Jeff's building -- a coffee shop! Just what I needed.

Right across from Jeff’s building — a coffee shop! Just what I needed.

Jay Baruchel hosting Just for Laughs, because life can't be all work!

Jay Baruchel hosting Just for Laughs, because life can’t be all work!

Creative licence - I think this might actually be an office building. It's Jeff's apartment building now

Creative licence – I think this might actually be an office building. It’s Jeff’s apartment building now

View from the quay, Old Port. Setting for mafia-type meet.

View from the quay, Old Port. Setting for mafia-type meet.

Raspberry truffle cheesecake from Rockaberry. Because.

Raspberry truffle cheesecake from Rockaberry. Because.

Chalet de Mont Royal - amazing view and nice spacious interior. Perfect for a show down with the villain, one might say ...

Chalet de Mont Royal – amazing view and nice spacious interior. Perfect for a show down with the villain, one might say …

Cassie's apartment near McGill University.

Cassie’s apartment near McGill University.

I’ve travelled quite a bit this year, but so far this trip was my favourite.  Maybe because of the cake or the show, maybe because after a 6 hour walk I had the best sleep in years, or maybe because I got to spend time with my characters in a way I’ve never experienced before. I looked at the city as Jeff would, or Cassie, or some surprise return people, and it gave me a new perception not only of them, but Montreal in general.

The real life tour is an experience I’ll be taking as often as possible can in future. What are your favourite methods of choosing locations or visualising your settings?

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7 comments

    1. I was halfway through when the server came up and said, “Next time you come, you’ll have to try the apple crumble cheesecake.” And I was all “THERE’S APPLE CRUMBLE CHEESECAKE?” So yeah, I’m going back.

  1. It’s a fantastic idea, if you’re setting your book in a contempory or historical location, to go and pay a visit. It’s brings things to life in your mind, which then helps your story and characters to live on the page.

    When I’ve written fantasy I’ve drawn on my trips to castles dotted around the UK. I’ll also confess to using online maps to fly-over areas and streetview to look around. It’s not the same, but international travel isn’t always feasible.

    Next time you go, can you post me some of that cake? 🙂

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