As I sit here melting in what is considered a “heat wave” in Europe (temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius since Wednesday), I begin to think about how weather and weather conditions influence the setting of a scene.
Of course compared to an Australian summer, this summer “heat wave” is actually like a cool spring day, but with no air-conditioning I’m sitting in a puddle of my own sweat which actually does nothing to cool me down. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled in my life, having had air-conditioning in the house since I was seven years old. However when much of the Australian summer consists of days over 40 degrees Celsius, I see air-conditioning as pretty much a necessity rather than the luxury it seems to be here. I guess heating is a necessity in Hungary, to survive the winter but in much of Australia it is the opposite.
I know I shouldn’t complain, it could be worse, but there’s nothing like melting in a pool of your own sweat to put you in a cranky mood. I have found a positive though, I have experienced the “wrath” of summer as my characters would have experienced it in the 1910s.
Small fans were in use during this time for residential purposes, often used in bedrooms, but that was all they had – and all I have at the moment.
I decided to write József’s story, or at least start it, while in Hungary, surrounded by the same (or similar) environment he would have been. Little did I realise just how closely surrounded I would be, despite being decades apart. Yes the world is very different now, I sit her surrounded by technology that never existed during József and Anna’s time, however many things remain the same. The apartment building is from their time, the furniture probably is too and whilst I’m sure the building would have looked quite different all those years ago, I can still sense the spirit of days long gone and catch a glimpse into the way things were.
The external world influences our writing, whether we want it to or not, this is something that cannot be avoided. We can though attempt to ensure that the influence is a positive one by surrounded ourselves with their story and seeking the write inspiration and influence, like myself writing this story in Hungary. Not everyone can go to the actual location and I consider myself to be extremely fortunate on this account, despite the fact that I’m soggy and cranky in this heat.
So now I head off to write about a fellow with a sever hangover and a nauseated pregnant woman on a sweltering summer’s day (both are characters, not myself, I assure you!) and encourage you to immerse yourself in the story, experience it as much as you can and describe it in detail.
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