I have no idea if this makes me odd, or even weird! I discovered it last year, whilst browsing Etsy (also known as procrastinating). It was a collection of old photographs from the 60s and 70s. Just random, badly taken, quite blurred photographs that had been discarded and picked up by an arty type for resale (all ethically resourced etc).
At the time, I was ‘between’ books. I’d just launched The Web They Wove and was drafting Book 3 – When We Deceive. I knew it was going to be a sequel and the last in the Tangled Web series, but it had raised a few questions about ‘background’ players who were going to be thrust into the limelight. I spend quite a lot of time getting to know everyone that appears in my books to varying degrees. If it’s the lead protagonist such as Kate in The Lie She Told or Ziggy in The Web They Wove then I can spend a couple of months just hanging out with them. This involves me going about my day-to-day life whilst musing over what a certain character would do in situations, such as the supermarket or at a doctor’s appointment. Even what food they might order at a restaurant. It means that when I sit down to write, I already have hundreds of scenarios worked out in my head that I can draw on.
So when I discovered I could actually purchase old photographs from the era my characters were raised or lived I was like a kid at Christmas! Yes, my family looked at me like I’d lost my mind (this happens frequently). I was delighted with the selection that came, and not only have I used them in When We Deceive but it’s also been a brilliant short story prompt, so you can expect a few short stories this year too!
What I love, and I mean really is creating a life for the people in the pictures. Sending them on adventures, daring them to brave and step out of what I imagine is their comfort zone. Giving them names, creating family tree’s, past lives and future selves. I often start my day with a quick free writing exercise. just setting my timer for fifteen minutes, pulling a random photograph and writing a story, scene or character outline. It’s great fun and really gets my imagination going.