Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Returning to Rue Rampon

I've just returned from an amazing trip to Europe. I guest lectured on social media at Worcester College at Oxford University and read from my poetry in Cardiff with Karen Head and Ivy Alvarez. I also returned to Paris to celebrate the 15th anniversary of my first trip – the one that inspired Conquering Venus – and to do a bit of location scouting and research for the sequel.

While I was in Europe, I did manage to finish a chapter, knock out a new one and start another. The sequel is coming along nicely and it's full of twists and surprises you probably won't be expecting. At least I'm hoping so. Of course, while I was in Paris, I had to return to Rue Rampon, where much of the action in Venus takes place.

The street, located in the 11th arrondissement near Republique Square, has changed very little from when I first visited in 1995. Some of the businesses on the ground floors have changed and the former Bel Air Hotel (where Martin, Diane, David and the teens on the summer trip check in) is now the upscale Le General. That's it at left.

What hadn't changed was Irène's apartment building. Her balcony is still full of flowers and, although you can't see it in this photo, the rooms still appear to be lined with bookcases. I really did want to ring the bell and say hello to who lives there, but how do you explain you've co-opted their home as the prime location of your book? Of course, my description of the building in the novel is slightly different – there's no flat roof, there's no business on the ground floor and Irène's balcony is bigger. 


Despite that, walking along Rue Rampon brought back many memories and reignited my desire to finish the sequel. I also went back to Notre-Dame, the Left Bank and spent the morning in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris' botanical garden. A big scene in the sequel takes place in the garden, so I took my notebook and sketched out ideas and bits of dialogue while I was sitting there in the center of beautiful Paris.

2 comments:

christine said...

I love this trip through the process of writing your novel, Collin. Someday it will be part of "The Making of the Conquering Venus Series." Beautiful photos.

Joy B. said...

I agree with Christine. And you needed that flat roof! I think it would have been great to give the people a copy of the novel!