Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sleuthing or stalking..?

Today's question: where is the line between conducting pure research and invading the privacy of complete strangers? 
While some may call it research, others (those living innocently at the end of the sleuth's trail) may call the police. Would they accept my poetic licence as proof of literary integrity?
I am inventing a childhood for my male lead character. Simply, he grew up in Sydney's inner West. I google mapped the suburb looking for a street with two criteria: 
  • must be within 15 minutes walking distance of the water (for boyhood mucking about in boats), and 
  • must be near or bordering a park. 
Found the perfect street and, serendipitously, it has the same name as my maternal grandfather. 
The beauty (scariness?!) of google maps is streetview. I zeroed in on number 29, situated at the cul de sac end and backing onto a park, hoping against hope the house hadn't morphed into a McMansion with no trace of lives once lived there. 
Happily, it's a single story red brick bungalow with a long concrete driveway up the side and, although I couldn't see around the back, I am certain there once proudly stood a Hills Hoist complete with plastic peg bucket in the centre of the grassy yard.
So now I need to go and see it for myself. 
I need to follow his fictitious footsteps to the patch of harbour where he kept his battered wooden dinghy in the bushes above the shoreline. And I need to imprint his home into my imagination so I can grow him up with credibility.
Have camera, have notebook, have comfy thongs and a curious mind. I'm ready to rock 'n roll. 
But what's acceptable? How do I do this without being cast as a weirdo voyeur...?
If you were the occupant of said house, and you, peering through the white venetians, saw me slide up in my car, snap away and take notes, what would you do??


Sam said...

"hills hoist" - disappointing ;) x

Sam said...

Quite frankly, I think the person with the white venetians should be locked up, not you the said stalker my dear..... xx

PS: Is it Birchgrove?

Rubyfire writes said...

Hills Hoist - better?! ;) He grew up in the '80s - a Hills Hoist in the backyard was as natural as tomato sauce on devon sandwiches or watching Countdown on Sunday night!

Not flash like Birchgrove, it's Concord :-)