I’m really enjoying the latest in the Violet series, Violet and the Smugglers – as ever, it’s a fabulously funny story by Harriet Whitehorn and is gorgeously illustrated by Becka Moor! So I’m thrilled to have Harriet on the site today as part of the blog tour.
From the moment Violet was a twinkle in my eye, I had great plans for her. She was going to be bold and intrepid, righting wrongs and solving mysteries, and she was going to travel to lots of exciting places. So after I had set up her home life in London in Violet and the Pearl of the Orient, she then dipped her toes into foreign travel in Violet and the Hidden Treasure, with the opening chapters set in a Maharajah’s Palace in India. And now, in Violet and the Smugglers, I have gone all out and almost the entire story is set abroad. I wanted the book to be exciting and fun, and a little bit glamorous, so the adventure starts on a sailing boat in Corfu, and then continues along the Adriatic coast to Venice, where most of the action takes place.
The advice to writers is always ‘write what you know,’ but, inevitably, a little imagination is required. For Violet and the Hidden Treasure, I hadn’t been to India for over twenty years (and never to a Maharajah’s Palace), but I managed to bluff my way through a chapter.
However, for Violet and the Smugglers, my imagination was going to be rather more chal-lenged…
I had only ever sailed for one day, I had never been to Dubrovnik where one of the scenes is set, and although I have stayed in Venice a few times, my last trip was over ten years ago so my memories were a little hazy to say the least. What to do? For various dull reasons, I couldn’t swing a lovely little research trip, so I had to manage from a stack of guide books, some handy travel programmes and of course the internet. It’s no substitute, I hear you cry. Well, actually, I have to say, Google Earth is a pretty amazing substitute. I couldn’t believe how good it was, as I virtually strolled around Dubrovnik. And when I touched down in Venice, the memories came flooding back of the narrow streets that end abruptly in canals or burst into spacious squares, the little angled bridges, and the colours – that blue green water, the bold terracotta, yellow and pink houses and the bone white churches.
The slight irony was that we actually did end up going to Venice on holiday, only a few months after I finished writing Violet and the Smugglers!
Here is a photo of my youngest daughter Clara in Venice.