Monday, 4 March 2013

A novel question


It's interesting what crops up when you're a blogger... I had an email recently from a lady called Marlene in Santa Cruz, California (just the name of that place made me excited!) and she said:

'My dad went to Saltaire School, and several of my aunts worked in the mill in the 1920s and 30s.  We emigrated to the US in 1949, but I have always been fascinated by Saltaire, have even rented a house on George St on a few occasions to get the feel of the place, and I'm writing a novel that is set there.  (Don't plan on running right out to buy it -- I've been working on this story for years, and I don't seem to be making much progress, but I'm retiring from work in August and will be able to put much more time into my writing then.)

I have a rather odd question -- does the mill really have six storeys as the World Heritage documents indicate or four as some of the more recent documentation says . . . or perhaps has it been modified from six to four or two of the floors are unused?  For the purposes of my story, I want to to have the action take place on the top floor, and I remember being winded just getting to the third floor last time I was there, so it would be much more dramatic if she had to walk up six storeys, especially if it was twelve separate flights of stairs.  But am I imagining that?

I am writing a scene when a women walks up the stairs for the first time, imagining her grandfather running up the stairs as the morning buzzer rings, but I can't visualize the steps very well.  I remember they were dark grey stone, somewhat more worn in the middle than the edges, and that they turned half way up each floor.  Would you be willing to take a set of photos of the stairs to help my memory?  I hope you can help me visualize my characters in that stairwell!'


Well, how could I resist that plea?  So here you are Marlene, the stairs at Salts Mill.



As it turns out, Marlene has a very good memory - her description of the stairs is pretty much spot on.  And yes, there are six storeys to the Mill, though the Victoria Road entrance enters at the first level.  There's a basement (currently a store selling textiles for the home), the first level (the 1853 Gallery), the second level (Pace plc and not open to the public), the third level (where the bookstore and Diner are), the fourth level (restaurant and galleries) and the roofspace, usually closed to the public.

17 comments:

  1. It's hard to look at these photographs, without sensing the footsteps and echoed words from the past. Very atmospheric.

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  2. She did you a good turn, the photos which you may never have taken are lovely.
    The blogworld is very small. I have been doing a series on travels in China during the mid 1980s. Immediately I received a request from the editor of a website in one of the places I showed and visited in China asking to put my retro!!! photos on their website.

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  3. Hi Jenny .. what fun - and so good to read about. Interesting we forget so often the slope/lie of the land .. and where we think there's one floor to climb, there's a few ...

    I bet Marlene has some wonderful stories that have come down through the family ..

    Cheers have a happy day .. Hilary

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  4. What an interesting adventure, Marlene's one , yours, the way you've been got to "meet" through blogging, I love that! By blogging, I met a friend who had been at the same school than me more than 40 years ago! Sometimes, i really do love blogs and blogging!

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  5. What a great story, Marlene must be over the moon with your images.

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    1. I AM over the moon with them -- such a wonderful gift! Marlene

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  6. Isn't blogging incredible! Good for you for answering this question.

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  7. I love this! She knew just who to ask. The stairs are lovely, too! I'm sure you'll be interested in her novel when it's finally finished!

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  8. Such an interesting post, jennyfreckles. When she tells you that her book has been published, you will have to tell the rest of us.

    It is cool discovering that anyone reads our stuff, isn't it? Every now and then I get an email from someone who wants to use a photo for a book they are doing, which is pretty cool. Once I did a post about a beautiful work of art by a noted artist in a museum I like, and two weeks later the artist wrote me to tell me that he had come across my post when he googled his own name and that he was flattered by what I had said and by what the commenters had said. I put artists on a pedestal and was amazed that he liked what a random guy off the street -- me -- had done.

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  9. Yes, I certainly remember a lot of stairs from my frequent visits. Isobel always tries to get the lift, but I like those cold stone steps that echo of too much history.

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  10. Beautiful You always draw us in so close and hug us Jenny. I think Marlene may have a very interesting novel when she retires. Thank you for sharing her email and the marvelous photos. Santa Cruz is a beautiful location to live or write. Gin

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  11. Very interesting post and wonderful of you to help out Marlene with the photos and information. I hope she is successful with finishing her story, but even if she doesn't finish, I'm sure she'll enjoy the time spent with her characters.

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  12. I love the connections made through blogging, yours included! How fun to be able to help her!

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  13. What a cool exchange ... that's what is great about blogging!

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  14. I agree with Jack's comments about "artists on a pedestal." It does amaze me the connections we make through blogging and how wonderful that this writer found you across the blogosphere. I will be delighted to know when she publishes. Wonderful post!

    Bises,
    Genie

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  15. What fun! Martin (Square Sunshine) helped me out when I had a British character in my last novel -- Martin made sure my character actually sounded British. I love how small the world is seen through the blogosphere.

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