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About a year ago, I succumbed to the Pinterest trend. (For those who have resisted, Pinterest is an image-sharing website.  If you see an image you like somewhere on t’Internet, you click on the “Pin it” button and it is pinned to your own Pinterest “board”.  It’s a handy way of saving pictures, and is much beloved of arty types who create “mood boards” to inspire fabulous interior design and fashion, darling.)  For twelve months, I have been adding to my (only) Pinterest board, which is all about Sam.  You can see it here.

To be honest, I started using Pinterest because I thought I ought to – because it’s a free tool out there, and tech-savvy authors should keep up with these things.  But I actually find it very useful as a storage device, and as a prompt.  For instance, a few days ago I tried to do some Planking, as we call it in our house; I was trying to make a dent in the 2,000 words I am trying to write each week, and of which I had written precisely zero.  And then I remembered Pinterest.  I went to Google, typed in the search term “London 1826” (“Plank 3” is set in 1826) and clicked on “Images”.  Whenever something caught my eye I clicked on it to read a bit more, and if something seemed Plank-ish, I pinned it to my board.

Who knows how much of it will actually end up in a Plank story at any point, but now, by scanning my Pinterest board, I can remind myself of what people and places looked like, and I can look for little details that can make a story come alive.  (If you’ve read “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”, you will know that Sam and Martha thought about visiting the menagerie on the Strand.  In 1826, the resident elephant went berserk and had to be shot – and I know this through a Pinterest pin.)  So if you’re stuck but don’t want to feel that you are wasting writing time, a themed Pinterest board can be a good place to both store ideas and seek inspiration.