Kew Gardens in spring is the place for inspiration. I found myself thinking about the hero of a book I'd thought about but never actually written: His name is Hilarion de Vere Sangrail (I can go OTT with names, given half a chance) and he’s dark, brooding, sexy and dangerous – I’m sure you know the type. Hilarion is like the cedar above: splendid, lord of all he surveys, etc. – but alone.
View from the bridge over the lake
My heroine, Hannah Gray, has had a rough time with men in the past and has more or less given up on them. When the story opens, she has decided to devote herself to Good Works. She cannot help feeling that there is nothing much in her life – like the view over the lake. It’s tranquil – but dull.
The bluebell wood
As I walked round Kew, I imagined what the various views might contribute to Hilarion and Hannah’s story. In the woods it’s bluebell time and their scent fills the air. It is impossible not to feel that the scene in front of you heralds the promise of renewal. Here, I imagined, Hilarion’s normal vein of sarcasm could fail him, and Hannah cannot help but respond to the beauty all around her. Tentatively, they both begin to drop their guard.
The drinking fountain
It’s hot. The satyr’s face above the spout seems to leer at Hannah and she avoids looking at the cupid below. But she is thirsty; and then Hilarion cups his hands to give her a drink … I’m not quite sure what happens here; Hannah cups her hands round his, perhaps. Something shifts…
Formal bedding with the Victorian water tower in the background
Hannah is more than half-relieved to get back to the formal bedding where everything is carefully confined, but part of her is unnervingly aware that something important happened by the water fountain and that drinking from Hilarion’s cupped hands was an act of curious intimacy. Shockingly, she wants more.
The temple of Bellona
Hilarion is looking thoughtfully at the water tower. He needs an ‘eek!’ moment, so I send him off to the temple of Bellona (the Roman goddess of war) where he tries to beat these new, unaccustomed softer feelings into submission. The sky is clouding over. Possible cue for an adventuress - always helpful for raising the tension.
The Broad Walk: tulips and copper beech
The Broad Walk, I thought, might be a suitable place for Hilarion and Hannah to come together. The tulips are looking beautiful and the copper beech is allowed to grow naturally. They complement each other – just as Hilarion and Hannah do.
The Long Vista
The Long Vista ends my story. It’s a broad avenue with a variety of trees and plants. In the distance, a couple are walking side by side. They look relaxed and happy in each other’s company. Perhaps, in a moment, they will slip into an arbour for a private moment ...
I’m lucky to be within reach of Kew Gardens; but all over the country there are beautiful parks, gardens and wild places just waiting to drop their pearls of inspiration into a writer’s mind. I’m sure you have your favourites.