The Wenlock family took a tour of Somerset yesterday, in pursuit of ideas for the sequel to Lord Alexander's Cipher; or, the Bridekirk Behemoth. Our first stop was at Glastonbury, where we climbed the Tor. Conditions were far from ideal; the tower loomed out of low clouds; it was real Marion Zimmer Bradley weather.
So what has this to do with the novel that, for quite a while, has carried the working title of Lady Cardington's Folly; or, the Limehouse Leviathan? My original idea was to have the story involve the Nautilus, or something like it. Unfortunately I was beaten to it by James McGee's Ratcatcher. But I now have a new idea, which features a somewhat deluded nobleman, the Earl of Avalon, who is incensed by Walter Scott's relocation of Arthurian legend to Scotland in The Lady of the Lake. The true Lake, he believes, is on his own estate.
A lake that looks something like our second destination, Stourhead. The Earl of Avalon's great house, with landscaped gardens, eyecatchers, follies, etc, is not, of course, going to be Stourhead itself, but is certainly inspired by it.
By the afternoon the mists and clouds had dispersed, and after touring the house, with its wonderful Regency library (a little too much of the rest of the house was restored to Edwardian grandeur following a bad fire in 1902), we walked around the lake, stopping off at the Grotto, the Temple of Apollo, the Gothic Cottage and the Pantheon.
My story is to be set in 1814, immediately after the defeat of Napoleon. The Earl invites our heroine, Miss Laeticia Leintwardine, to play the part of the Queen of Beauty (a part for which she is eminently qualified) in a great Arthurian pageant. Of course such an event attracts the interests of others, and neither the Earl's plans, nor the course of true love, will run entirely smooth.
There will be buckles swashed, and derring done, but also hearts lost and hearts won. How it all works out in the end I will only know when I have written it, but I hope that I will have some idea after my writing week in deepest darkest Wales at the end of May.