The Summer NaNo isn’t so much a novel as the groundwork for one, as I take the challenge of playing the 30-question character questionnaire against a plot skeleton. Today I’m to ask Leonie what she ate today, in great detail.
She’s presently on an ocean-going steamship, en route from England to New York City, some time in 1916. I looked up the dinner menus from the Titanic (1913), then read a bit about theWhite Star Line, and its rival, the Cunard Line (the former distinguished by the luxury of accommodations, the latter by rapidity of transit) and decided that it had to be a Cunard liner. Leonie is a courier accompanying a shipment of paintings to a very wealthy buyer who wants to enjoy his new acquisition as soon as possible. I guessed that wartime conditions would have reduced the luxury standard, and got lucky with a Google search on Cunard dinner menus from 1915-1916.
Then I read about the Academie Julian, whose students included artists as various as John Singer Sargent, Marie Bashkirtseff, Robert Henri, and Diego Rivera. Very definitely our Leonie did her training there, as it was one of the few French art schools that admitted women at the time. There was a lovely labyrinth, too, in which I learned more about the works of all of the above, and began reading Bashkirtseff’s famous diary, which Leonie would have read as a young teenager.
All of which confirmed, of course, my initial guess: she is dining on roast beef, potatoes and horseradish, in the second-class dining room, while thinking about the light on the cutlery and the still-life that meal would make.
The fun part, of course, is confirming that answer. Now I’m off to finish the interview and to find out what else is lurking behind the unwritten page.