Heritage Walk

Our writing group took part in the local Heritage Week and participated in the Dress Circle Heritage Walk.  It was past some of the old houses in the Nelson area.  It was a guided walk, which was really nice to have some history about the people who lived in the houses and what they did, who they became, why the houses are important in the scheme of Nelson etc.  While it was a very interesting and informative walk, I would have liked to know more about the houses themselves, who built them, what they were constructed of, who designed them, a bit of history about the construction of the house.

All in all though, I learnt about some of the characters in Nelson – like one of the stately manors was owned by a husband and wife team who were well ahead of their time.  He was an astronomer and she was a suffragette.

I also learnt that the founders of Griffins (the biscuit and confectionery empire) was originally from Nelson.

What I learnt most of all, was that this was a very good way to get research for writing ideas, it gave me a better idea of what houses were around during the 1860’s and also who was prominent in the Nelson society at the time.

There were tragedies, there was triumphs, there were busy people – lots of interesting things to learn about.

So I recommend that if you are interested in history, or want some idea of what your neighbourhood looked like at any time period, check it out with your local council, because they will have a Heritage Liaison officer who will be able to help, or check out their site for information on walks that they might have around your town.

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Wondering Who They Are?

Bet you are wondering what is going on with the rogues gallery above – well, they are the subjects of my next story.  Collectively known as the Burgess gang, they are (hopefully in order), Joseph Sullivan, Philip Levy, Richard Burgess and Thomas Kelly.  All but one of them were executed for a crime spree which lasted several months around NZ, and culminated in the murder of 5 men near Nelson, also it is reported that they could have killed as many as 20 men between the West Coast and Nelson.

I am quite excited about writing their story, from a unique perspective.  This is the story that I am struggling with at present.  Why?  Because I guess it is a story that is so well documented, I want to be accurate with my story, while still telling it from a fictional point of view, which is kind of hard when most historians will probably read it and pick all the faults there are with it, but it is a story I have been passionate about since I was in Std 4 (Year 6 I guess!).  I wrote a short story that year about being the rope that hung one of the men… yeah I know, I had strange ideas even back then.

I’m hoping by having them in my face (I have pictures of them in my house and around my laptop too), I will get to the point where I just have to get it done.  So best I stop mucking around and start writing!

Getting Started

Now that I have finished the Bloody Gothic Novel, I have turned my attention to my writing goals, which includes writing three novels this year.  My initial plan was to write one in March, however Evil Editors Unite is on over at KiwiWriters, and I want to take part in this.  As a result, that means that I have to start writing either in February or April, either of which doesn’t unduly worry me.

I had some ideas buzzing around inside my head, including a Steampunk novel based in my hometown in the 1850’s, but when I couldn’t find the notes I had started on this, I realised that perhaps it wasn’t the right time.

So I got to thinking about other historical events that took place in NZ, because I thought it was about time I concentrated on local history.  And I remembered a very grizzly murder which occurred here back in the 1800’s.  Bit of research later, and I discovered that even though the event is very well known in the region, no one has written a novel about it… Hmmmm, cogs are turning.

More research later and having read through historical documents, including the local newspaper printed at the time, I realised that the story was pretty much told at the time.  But how wonderful would it be to actually dramatise the story and make it come alive!  What a challenge!

I have enough material that I can’t get any of the facts wrong, and believe that it will make a fascintating read, especially since there is so much speculation involved in the facts, so I have a new story idea.  And like always, I am itching to start on it.  But I still have to plan it out, get the timing right, work on the storyline a little, but I am certain that I am onto a winner, and even if it doesn’t become a best seller, I am still fascinated by the story, as I have been since I first heard it when I was 10 years old.

So watch this space – next novel will be a local historic novel!  Yay!