A writers’ scrawl for the Summer Solstice

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The idea of returning to Lucerne with a group of writers and illustrators from the SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) was really appealing. The city of Lucerne was important in my novel In Search of Lost Girls and this visit was a further chance to let Lucerne inspire me. In the photo above, the group study story dice that Elisabeth threw for us, rather like others might read the oracle.

Our first port of call was Rotsee. A small expanse of water above Lucerne where rowing fans gather to practice.

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The peaceful lakeside was an ideal place to write and there was inspiration in the air. The group scattered to quiet corners down by the water  to begin their work. But I had not come to write a new piece, rather to continue editing In Search of Lost Girls readying it for publication.

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Although I have visited Lucerne several times I have never climbed the walls. With Stephane to guide us, we settled in the gardens at the foot of the walls and were even able to climb inside the tower to stand atop the walls as the watch must once have done. It was there, perched above the city, that we heard the many bells rival each other to announce midday. Bells. Yes. I had to include them in my story and I happened to be editing a place where I could do just that. Here’s a very brief extract.

“She lived in Lucerne, in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Imagine a fairly large city nestling in the mountains, at one end of a lake, a city of churches and sumptuous hotels, a city where the tolling of bells is a constant companion. Her parents had a mansion down by the lake with its own little port where they moored their yachts. They had several of them. Life was a formal affair in that house, with organised salons which only the best families attended, carefully planned meals prepared by first class chefs and servants that waited on the family at all hours of the day and night. I was never invited. She didn’t care too much for that life, but obedience was a virtue in her family, especially in women.”

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I wanted to visit Saint Leodegard, the Hof as it is called, but unfortunately there was a wedding and I was unable to wander freely through the church savoring the emotional scenes that brought In Search of Lost Girls to a close. The combination of the building, despite the modern-day drama playing out there, and the memory of my story, albeit fiction, still moved me deeply.

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As I said to Sheila on the trolley back to the station, Peter might have been able to finally unravel the dilemma that beset him in In Search of Lost Girls, but I fear his joyful solution may only be a short-lived reprieve. Unlike his namesake, Peter Pan, he will not be able to remain for ever in Never Never Land.

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