Today I gave a good shake at The Mother of Lightning, the story I’m writing for Pro Se Press’ The New Adventure of Ned Land – hoping I’ll be able to finish it, and they’ll like it.
The deadline looms closer, it is time to check the details and nail the box shut for delivery.
The story is set in Shanghai in 1871, and that’s the tricky part, because this is exactly the moment in which the British and the French, aka The Most Favoured Nations, were redesigning the former fishermen’s village in their own image.
The Bund was there but it was not yet the wonder it would be in the 1920s, and a lot of the city was very different from the Shaghai we usually get from movies or novels – the Paris of the East.
So I went through my collection of old maps and books,a nd finally fell back on Peter Hibbard’s The Bund, Shanghai: China Faces West, a wonderful historical and architectural guidebook to the waterfront of Shanghai.
The book, published by Odyssey, is beautifully illustrated, with both old and new photos.
Some complain that it is not up to date (it was published in 2007) and so it does not work – or so they say – as a proper guidebook when you are out in the field, but for an armchair traveler or a writer looking for details about the Shanghai Club, it is an absolute treasure trove.
I was a little surprised in finding out that some of the details I had put down on the fly while writing were actually correct. But I’ve spent so much time reading (and sometimes writing) about Old Shanghai, that apparently I know the ins and outs of it better than I remember the streets and bus stops of my hometown.