It would be hard to persuade anyone looking into a writer’s study - desk, notes, books, cups of tea – that writing was very exciting when hard graft was in progress. At its best, writing can be a sensuous experience, a chance to retreat into an inner life and make connections from impressions and scraps of thought.Invoking the senses while writing can be helped by playing music. I’ve always enjoyed background music while working and tend to have favourite soundtracks for each novel. The Lantern, for example, was written largely to Debussy and Fauré. This time, though, I’ve been less inclined to write with music. I don’t know why, but I’ve found myself turning the CD player off because it’s become a unwelcome distraction.
However, I have been working enveloped in a perfume. Liz Earle’s Botanical Essence No. 15 Eau de Parfum is a warming winter perfume described by its creator as a “softness and warmth like cashmere on the skin”.I read the list of ingredients before spraying. I was thrown at first because I thought this must be No. 15 Vetiver. But no, the fragrance is a blend of all of these (and the clever packaging is based on old facsimile botanical drawings of all the natural elements in the blend):
The perfume begins to unfurl with a surprisingly citrus sparkle but it’s a Christmassy citrus that mellows into clove and cinnamon like a heady mulled wine. There are strong notes of pink pepper and musky cedarwood. This is a bold blast of oriental, the scent of red rooms and candles glowing. It’s spicy with a hint of blowsy floral and my favourite amber is plumped up with a rich base of vanilla from the tonka bean. The perfect scent for cosy days as autumn fades into winter darkness.And thanks to the unique relationship between perfume and memory, this is the scent that will bring back the months of working on The Night Flight.