Finding inspiration - it's always in the last place you look, in the place you least expected.
Inspiration can strike anywhere, of course. This just seemed like a good excuse to talk about my holidays!
Seriously, though, holidays are a fantastic way to refresh yourself and your mind-set and get a whole new perspective on this crazy wagon-ride we call life. When I went to Israel a few years ago, for example, I saw a whole new culture and way of life. I saw modern Tel Aviv and the old town in Jerusalem, and both were inspiring in their own ways. I would say the old town was more inspiring, in terms of giving me ideas of what to write. Tel Aviv was more inspiring in the sense of seeing what we – humanity – can achieve. We can destroy any natural environment, build a concrete jungle anywhere.
Natural environment. I think that’s the most inspiring, in a way. I’ll never forget visiting the ruins of a fort in Israel, where my friend and I were on a small cliff above the sea, surrounded by fields of little yellow flowers and the bones of an ancient civilisation, all shining in the sun. Scenes like that can inspire wondrous landscapes and worlds in my stories.
The history of the place, too, was inspiring. I wrote my dissertation at University on the First Crusade, reading many first-hand accounts, and I found the whole history of the Crusades fascinating. That people were willing to cross the world and commit genocide for their religion is mind-boggling to me. Their belief that Jerusalem – a pile of stones – is all-important is both illogical and understandable, and it is such contradictions that I like to explore as a writer. I suppose that period of history may well have been the inspiration for the Order of Pacia in my Convent series.