In July I travelled to the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and I’ve returned with my head full of fresh story ideas. I also paid a flying visit to Portugal, home of my most loyal and enthusiastic readership. Fans queued patiently at some length to have books signed during my public appearance at a Lisbon bookstore.
The following day, with members of online fan forum Mundo Marillier, I visited an eccentric palace and garden in Sintra, near Lisbon. Quinta da Regaleira is an extraordinary mélange of architectural traditions, crammed with mythological and esoteric references in which freemasonry plays a major part. Where else would you find a deep, damp initiation well, a library with a perilous trick floor – get too close to the books, break your leg – and a kangaroo gargoyle?
I returned from Europe with dozens of photos, mostly taken to aid my memory for future writing projects. There were many wonderful things to see, from the stunning architecture of Riga’s Art Nouveau buildings to the magical birch forests near the Baltic coast of Estonia. But the key was emotion: the feelings encapsulated in certain experiences, running the gamut from complete joy to profound sorrow. As a writer, I observe and take notes, I process and analyse intellectually, but above all I feel. It’s the emotional responses, rather than the intellectual ones, that form the seeds for stories to be written some time in the future.