I'm a Writer, get me out of here!
It sometimes feels like I've been working on Warring States forever. A photo from RichardR on flickr made me wonder whether I have been working on Warring States for longer than I realised. Seeing this photo of a pagoda, I went to my photograph box and looked through it for photographs of oriental architecture. I was surprised to see that every big overseas trip comes with a subset of photos of a Chinese or Japanese tea garden. When I went through back in March, I'd just pulled out one photo of a street scene and ignored the garden photos (there are no restful garden scenes in Warring States, and the tea houses are all busy street ones). Having just bought a flickr pro account (which works out as UKP2/month for a 1G upload limit), I've got busy with the scanner and produced two sets:
Ladylark, who is beta-reader on Warring States, was the person who took me to Sydney. I suggested we went to the Chinese Tea Garden on New Year's Day, 2000, so, at some level, she's also been working on this novel for years. She also came with me to Barcelona for the reseacrh trip for History 101. It makes us sound like the "travelling companions" from a 1930s Agatha Christie novel. I've done a short flickr set of me and/or us on these trips.
I do wonder, though, whether my interest in Chinese culture can be traced back to my childhood, where a particular shop in Birmingham New Street station was ritually visited (if I had been good during the rest of the shopping trip). I used to love it there, buying new reed whistles, little fans or pin-cushions on each trip. It has, naturally, long since gone.