On being a writer...

A celebration of the writing process, of being a writer, of all the weird things that pass through a writing brain...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

York and the past

While a cruise ship was being wrecked off the coast of Italy, I was travelling up the East Coast of England to York to attend a friend's wedding.

I'd visited York several times, most notably to research my novel, After Mary, which centres around the life of Mary Ward, the 'female' Jesuit who founded a religious order, whose family was embroiled in the Gunpowder Plot, and who notably walked from France to Rome several times in her life in order to petition the pope. The Bar Convent, in York, has a museum about the Catholic recusants who resisted all attempts to stop them saying mass - it includes a priest's hole and the preserved hand of Margaret Clitheroe, who was crushed to death under rocks for her refusal to give evidence in court.

In York history is barely concealed beneath the surface. After the wedding we went to evensong in the Cathedral. I felt like a flake in the history of that place. And yet that's precisely why I love to write about the past - the fact that our lives are so multi-layered - that in my head, at that moment in the cathedral, was my friend and her wedding, and Mary Ward, and that book, and the Cathedral and the music, and the tragedy of a cruise ship, and Margaret Clitheroe, all present in one moment.

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