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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Going down Rabbit holes.

Blog post for September 2023

Once again I look back through my diary entries for September and see my daily entries are all very similar. The main difference is the amount of research I’m doing for a planned novel (maybe a series) about Occupied Paris in 1940. The books I’ve bought for my research cover the years 1940-1944, so the early stages of my research means I will only use about a third of the material, maybe less, for now. But before I talk about that, a little about what I did during September.

I took Tuppence to the vet to have her teeth cleaned. I’ve been advised on how I should clean her teeth. Trouble is — Tuppence won’t let me, simple as that. I give her a carrot or a small chew to help with the process anyway.

I took my sister-in-law, Sandy, out to lunch. Sandy was married to my younger brother, Arthur, who died shortly before my lovely Pat. Most times we talk about what we’ve been up to but invariably end up talking about our loss. We went to a dog friendly pub, which meant I could take Tuppence.

I also took Tuppence with me when I visited my granddaughter, Gemma and her family in Brighton. I took them (Great grandson, Orin, and Gemma’s partner, Max) out to lunch at the Laughing Dog Café in the marina. Lovely afternoon with them.

I decided to grow tomatoes this year. I ended up with that many I had to make soup. Not a good idea. The only thing it taught me, besides proving that I’m a lousy cook, is not to grow tomatoes again.

Another pleasing event was lunch with our No. 2 son, Terry, at Goodwood Aerodrome. We sat in the sunshine at the café beside the airfield watching the flying, eating chips and just having a thoroughly nice time. Tuppence was with us as well (natch).

But back to my world of books. I was working on a fourth Emma Carney Romance and had reached about 12000 words when I knew I was going nowhere with it; all I was doing was adding a series of events that were taking me down rabbit holes; certainly not a fitting way to find a reasonable end to a plausible story. I soldiered on for a while until I had my thoughts triggered by a film that had nothing to do with the war but referenced a fictional series about the war in Paris. This set me on the kind of research I used to do years ago before Social Media was invented. I went to the local library and ordered a book about Occupied Paris. I also searched online for more material and ended up buying four books: SOE ‘F’ Section heroines, (written by Sqdn. Leader Beryl E. Escott); When Paris Went Dark (Ronald Rosbottom); Paris in the Third Reich (David Pryce-Jones) and Americans in Paris 1940-1944 (Charles Glass). Three of the books were used, but I bought the paperback of the Library book because I knew I might have to make notations in it.

Looking through all that material might seem daunting, but much of it is repeated in all the books, and for my story, I only want to write about the early period leading up to June 1940 when German troops marched into the open, undefended city of Paris. I expect to spend a lot of time researching before I can put together a plan of how and where I want to start, and where I’ll finish. If I think I have made a success of this, I would be prepared to write a series (if I live long enough!). But the material is there along with fascinating characters and dramatic events. I have already written the opening chapter (twice), but even now I’m wondering if I should wait until I have everything written down that I need before plotting a story.

So looking ahead, my weeks will be filled with domestic chores, walking Tuppence, going to church, falling asleep in the chair, watching TV, playing my piano and missing my lovely Pat. Between all this, I hope to be writing my next full length novel.

Wish me luck!

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