Tuesday, March 03, 2009

House as Character

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

So begins Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier's classic novel of romantic suspense. Manderley, of course, is the English country home of the heroine's new husband, and Du Maurier makes this house a vivid and very real character in the novel.
I have always given serious thought to where my characters live. The heroine of one story lives in a French Provencial-style home in the Caribbean. I knew exactly what it looked like on the inside but couldn't quite visualize the outside. One day, my daughter and I were driving through a nearby suburb, and I spotted it. I was floored. I knew this was my heroine's house. (The next time we were going through that neighborhood, I brought the camera and made her take pictures as I drove by very slowly. She was mortified and convinced we were going to be arrested.)

Another house I found on the Outer Banks. At the time I saw it, I was still planning my story. It was a brand new mansion, and I happened upon it while they were having an open house. The real estate agent wouldn't let me take pictures, but I found it online later, which helped me save the details. Eventually I figured out why my heroine lived there, and it was the perfect house for her.

The Gamble House (above) in Pasadena, California, is another house I am in love with. I don't know which of my characters will live there, but one will someday.

How about you? How important are your characters' dwelling places?


Carla Swafford said...

Strangely, I've never thought about it. It's been many years since I've read REBECCA or any other classic.

Only my vampires live in fancy big houses and I've never describe the outside. And most my contemporaries live in regular homes or fancy studio sleepers. LOL!

M.V.Freeman said...

Hmmm. You know You have me thinking about this... I may have to get back with you on this. :)

You have made me rethink houses...