Monthly Archives: June 2017
A Souterrain is a type of underground construction mainly associated with the Atlantic Iron Age. Built near settlements, they were used as storage for food or as a hiding place from raiders. After being dug out, they were lined with flat stones and staircases down into their depths. Of those excavated throughout the UK and Ireland, artefacts are rare, indicating that they were merely in use temporarily. Some are very small, while others resemble passageways; my guess is that it would depend on the size required by the settlement, and how much time they had to prepare it.
I came across a souterrain along Loch Eriboll in 2012, as I was in the area doing research for my novel, The Cardinal. In these photos, you can see that, if you were walking out there at night or dusk, they could be very treacherous. My husband crawled down inside to take a picture back out; it was roomy enough for him to stand once inside (in this particular souterrain even the ceiling was lined with large stone slabs), though the narrow stone stairs and proportions, in general, indicated a much shorter population than modern humans. You can see from the photo of myself how overgrown the bracken and heather is; the entrance was nearly completely hidden; we were looking for it based on a geological map’s markings, but if we hadn’t known it was there, it would have gone completely unnoticed.
I needed a tunnel entrance in the exact location of the souterrain for the novel, so it enriched the story by fitting reality and the fantasy together perfectly!
Recently I came across Pixar’s rule #19, quoted in James Scott Bell’s book, “How to Write Short Stories (and use them to further your writing career)”. It’s an excellent book, and one of a few of his I’ve got in my Kindle collection. But this rule reminded me of the whole list, full of good advice for storytellers whether their format is film or novel (from flash fiction to tome). Most writing advice boils down to things like focus, self-discipline, detail work, and honing one’s craft to the best it can be – and that is an on-going process, a habit, an addiction. It needs to be a passion. Honing our craft means covering all the bases – grammar, syntax, plot, character, vocabulary, pacing, theme-building, and so, so, much more! If you’ve got a weakness in your writing skills, the good news is that you can always improve it! Make it a strength! So be inspired, and keep writing!