Monday, January 12, 2009

Hafan Deg - The House

Having photographs on this blog is a first, but I came across these as I was sorting through my writing files. I thought you'd find them interesting.

This is the house in Wales that inspired Hafan Deg. It's the large one, close to the water. You can see why it captured my imagination. Add to this the fact that the place was becoming a ruin, not visible in these pictures, and you might understand how I reacted to it as I did.

I have always been obsessed by houses. Naturally, some of them were my own; there is nothing I love more than buying an old place and re-doing it with whatever limited funds I have. I've owned a few houses, over the years, but once they were redecorated, improved, I moved on.

However, I love all old houses, particularly if they appear unloved. Going for a drive in the country, seeing so many derelict places, I long to just wave some magic wand and make them all whole again, with people living in them. In fact, if you've ever looked at my website, I've painted this kind of house more than once.

My first novel involved an empty house, eerier than Hafan Deg in my current book. But that house had a ghost. I don't believe in ghosts, but I love to write about them. How silly is that?

I think that I'm saying that I believe in the energy of a house, something that perhaps scientists can, or have, explained at one time or another. When I walk through a place - again, when it's empty - I feel the breath of it, somehow. For a woman who is extremely pragmatic, and not into fantasy at all in my non-writing life, this is very odd. Of course, I imagine that we all get that feeling in ancient churches, and it can be overwhelming in some of the grand heritage houses run by the National Trust in England, but, in those places, we already know their history, as the plaques and booklets are right there as we walk around, revealing their sagas.

But it's strange that a very ordinary, sometimes extraordinary, old family home, in its abandonment, can carry that same sense of story, hint at the previous lives spent there.

I'm not complaining about my eccentricity. If it's a psychological problem, it's a gentle one, unlikely to cause harm to me or anyone else, and definitely helpful to the old houses I sometimes buy.

Perhaps there are others who feel this way - practical, scientifically-minded, non-fantasy kinds of people who also get that gut reaction to a place.

I said I don't believe in ghosts, but I know I couldn't spend a night alone in, say, Hampton Court, or the Tower of London. What's that about? Is this a case of 'I-don't believe-in-ghosts-but-I-wouldn't-want-to-meet-one'?

Whatever it is, it makes for a good read, and certainly makes me write. I wonder what you think about it.


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Quotes to Consider

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin

"Well behaved women rarely make history."~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”~William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894), theologian, teacher, pastor

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." ~Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd U.S. president

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), essayist, poet, philosopher

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~Mark Twain

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
~ Wayne Gretzky