A French Corner of Paradise
We are less than three weeks away from the publication of THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE CLIFF. These days are always a little nerve-racking, because I am agitating about the book’s future success. Will it live up to expectations in the eyes of the publisher etc. It is a time of interviews, preparing for readings, book-signings and writing short articles for magazines, newspapers. It was for one of these requests – the Irish Times – that I returned this week to the southern location of THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE CLIFF, to where the house itself is set.
This time last year I had more or less completed the first draft of the novel but I was still not entirely happy with its location, which I had placed closer to where we live, in some unnamed destination along the Riviera between Nice and Italy. I am one of those writers who use location almost as another character. If the geographical context of the story does not feel right, I am not happy. And so it was with this novel, something was not quite falling into place, until my husband took me on a jaunt to Cassis, to the area known here as Les Calanques. The Creeks. I had visited here before but not since several years and certainly not with a novel in gestation.
It was love at first sight, you might say. I knew almost instantly that I had found the setting for my story and even more so when I began to learn about the neighbourhood. This region is a National Heritage site. For many months of the year it is fairly deserted. The tourists visit in their droves during the summer months. The landscape is very dramatic, even more so when a storm blows in. It boasts the highest maritime cliff in Europe
Beneath the water’s surface are underground caves, cave paintings, dramatic shifts in the level of the sea bed, and it can be very dangerous.
I had all I needed and I set to wok to relocate the location of ‘my house on the cliff’. Moving house and characters west along the French Mediterranean coast.
I returned to the ‘scene of the crime’ one might say this week to remind myself of details for the article I am writing. Michel and I took long walks in the pouring rain and howling winds. Yes, I thought, when the storms come in off the sea this place appears very threatening and when the sun shines it is enticing. It is a paradise where one could hide away from real life, where one could disappear.