I’m thrilled to welcome Marsha Moore to the blog today. She’s written two guide books, one to London and one to Paris, both with a delightful twist – they tell you what the best of the cities are at any point in the day or night. A wonderful and really bloody useful idea, I think you’ll agree. (And if you read all the way to the bottom you’ll notice she has a novel coming out too. Just saying…)
So, here she is with a guest post. Enjoy! I know I did.
‘Places with Character
Writing over 400 guide-book listings – as I’ve done for both 24 Hours London and 24 Hours Paris – could seem more a chore than something enjoyable. But if you look at each city – each listing – as having its own story, it’s never dull.
24 Hours travel guides are organized by hour, providing the best of what a city has on offer at that moment in time. Taken as a whole, flipping through the book gives you a sense of the rhythm of the city: in London, the morning markets and spots to watch the sun rise; the afternoon teas and museums; and the great clubbing life and theatre. In Paris, it’s the patisseries and cafés; the great boutiques and terraces to people watch; and the artists’ collectives, brasseries and lofts to hang out in at night.
Break it down even further, and everything I’ve included in the book – restaurants, artworks, toilets even – has its own tale to tell. Although I usually only have space for about three to five sentences, I try to make each listing into a vignette to tell the reader not just why they should see it, but what it is that places that item in the context of the city around it.
Over the course of my research, I’ve come across some intriguing (if somewhat obscure!) facts about London and Paris. Like the Woolwich Ferry, for example – a free ferry that’s been operating since the 1300s. Or the fact that that the Brookwood Cemetery – which used to be served by the London Necroplis Railway – once had two separate train stations for the dead depending on their religious persuasion: Conformist and Non-Conformist. From a Cocteau mural in a central London church to a lost river at the bottom of an antiques shop, London’s places are full of stories.
And Paris is no different. Did you know, for example, that writers with no fixed address can pick up their post at Hemmingway’s old hang-out, The Ritz? Or that you can browse your laptop with free wireless access in the Arenes de Lutece, a Roman amphitheatre restored thanks to the support of Victor Hugo? Or, if you really want to get up close and personal with history, you can use the city’s last remaining pissoir in front of La Santé Prison?
Like characters in a novel, each place in a city has something to say, a role to play. If you look at it that way, how could writing about anything be boring?’
Marsha wrote her first ‘book’ at age 9. Disasters in Florida was a non-fiction account of her family’s trip to Florida, fraught with airplane delays and broken car locks. Remarkably, despite the action-packed narrative, the book remains unpublished. Undeterred, Marsha trained to be a journalist and worked for several years in journalism and PR. Her desire to travel propelled her from her native Canada to Poland and then on to England, where she has lived and worked for the past six years. Her first book, 24 Hours London was released in November 2009. 24 Hours Paris, the second in series, has just been published. Marsha’s first novel, The Hating Game (under pen name Talli Roland) is set to be released next year.