Two weeks ago, I was wondering if my trip to Croatia would provide me with any inspiration for a novel. I’m happy to report success!
On the third day, as we travelled along the coast from the small town of Omis (where we were staying) to the city of Split, our tour manager, Kevin, pointed out several boatyards. He told us the Croatians used to be excellent shipbuilders, but most had now turned their hands to converting ancient rusty fishing boats into luxury yachts. We actually saw one of these ‘conversions’ at a small port near to Split – it’s the one on the left which Kevin said he’d seen in its original rusty state, and watched the conversion over several months.
The cogs started turning in my mind. Smuggling, maybe? Or what if something had been hidden on the old fishing boat, and ‘someone’ (a few years later) needed to find whatever it was?
Later during the tour, Kevin gave us a lot of information about the war in the 1990s between the Croats and Serbs, and my original idea started to grow. What if the fishing boat had been used to bring someone out of Croatia during the war, maybe because he’d been spying on Serb positions in the mountains, and relaying information to the Croatian army? And suppose the rescue went wrong – and the boat held the clue to who had compromised the mission?
I put this basic scenario to Kevin and asked him if it was feasible. Yes, he said, and then proceeded to give me more information about the many islands off the coast, especially one that (from the mainland) can only be seen from a Croatian fort that guarded a mountain pass (and thus protected the city of Split from being attacked by the Serbs). Even better, during the Communist era, this island had been a military base, and had a port and landing strip.
Now the cogs really were starting to whizz around, and by the end of the week, I’d drafted a short prologue about an unsuccessful rescue in 1993.
Jump forward 20 years, and perhaps the daughter of someone involved in the rescue comes to Croatia to find out just what happened to her father. Of course, she’ll then meet the hero, and …
Well, that’s about as far as I’ve got at the moment, apart from a few scenes with the hero and heroine. For example, he’s going to take her in a small launch up the Cetina river from Omis –
and he’ll take her to a traditional ‘klapa’ night at a hotel – four (or more) men singing Dalmatian songs a capella. I have my own experiences to draw on for both these scenes.
Kevin must have read my mind because, on the last day, he asked me if I’d bought the CD of the klapa singers who entertained us in Split. When I said I hadn’t, he pulled a CD from his bag and gave it to me, saying, “Play this to inspire you while you’re writing your story."
|Sunset from our hotel near Dubrovnik|