I spent an hour or two last week trying to figure out what Gibraltar looked like in 1800. I was bring my hero, Damian, Earl of Windermere, home from a diplomatic mission to Persia and he stopped on the way home for an important meeting.
This rocky peninsula dangling from the south coast of Spain, close to the narrow entrance to the Mediterranean, has been a British possession since the 18th century. (No, Spain is still not happy about the fact.) It came in particularly handy at the time I am writing, when the naval war between Britain and France was at its height, before Nelson pretty much polished off the French fleet at Trafalgar in 1805.
As tends to happen with research, I spent quite a while deciding whether to set my scene on a beach or in a pub, based on these two approximately in-period illustrations.
So which did I choose? Actually neither. I ended up speeding up Damian’s journey and relocating the scene to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London. By the time the book is finished and revised it may be cut altogether, or moved to a grotto. (I like a good grotto scene.)
Can you imagine a scene that would work equally well in Gibraltar or a London theater? The way things are going, it might even end up in this book! Writers get inspiration wherever we can find it.