One afternoon, idly looking down over the lower terraces at the stone walls, my eyes fastened on a wooden beam in the wall attached to the first stone arch. Moments passed before it occurred to me that what I was seeing was a lintel, and that there had once been a door underneath it. It was there, very faintly, in outline. Another room, possibly, blocked up with stones.
from The Lantern
When I’m writing a novel, I really enjoy describing what is really there. The story comes from the imagination, but what will make it vivid and plausible is being rooted in a real landscape and setting. So, although these words are supposedly written by Eve in The Lantern, they are my experience of being at “Les Genévriers”, our property as it features in the novel.
And it’s also possible to present a photograph of the place itself, just as I first noticed it a couple of years ago, and as it remains today. What was it used for, once upon a time? No doubt, it would have been something quite prosaic: for storing farm equipment, or just possibly for sheltering animals. The chamber cannot have been very big – at the most, only a few yards square – but why, and when, was it blocked up?
We took out the top row of stones to see if it was possible to re-open the entrance, but it seems not. There is another layer of stones, and rubble behind it. This is where those of us with over-active imaginations start to guess at all sorts of explanations. Of course, I couldn’t resist writing it into my story, and I hope those you you who read the book will be interested to see what might have formed other pictures in the mind, as it really exists.