I turned in Balthazar’s book last week (yay! I love writing The End and sending a story winging off) and have started my next book, or at least the preliminaries for it. This is the 3rd in my Regency-set trilogy “The Muses of Mayfair,” and is set in Bath. So, I got out postcards and photos of the city to add to my Inspirations Board (pictured here).

But the Board is not quite complete. Like many writers, I do like to “see” my characters (or maybe I just like looking at pictures of handsome actors?), and thus have to add images of them to my Inspirations. My heroine, Thalia (the youngest of the 3 classical-scholarly Chase sisters) was easy enough. She is young, blonde, and very very cute. Her sisters compare her to a porcelain shepherdess, and she hates that. But she does like the advantage that appearing fragile and fluffy can give her. No one expects her to cause mischief, so she never gets in trouble for it. She looks a bit like Kirsten Dunst.

The hero, Count Marco di Fabrizzi, was harder to picture (hard to picture for a dark, sexy Italian, that is!!). I can see him in my mind, but my usual Hero Inspirations just weren’t working quite right. Orlando was the hero of my last book–he needs a wee rest! So, when I mentioned my dilemma in the comments of Elena’s Wednesday post, Elizabeth Mahon reminded me of Rodrigo Santoro. Perhaps he’s best known for 300 (though totally unrecognizable there). I loved him in those Chanel No. 5 commercials with Nicole Kidman, the ones where she wears that big pink feather dress and goes running through the streets to live in a garret with him. Voila, I have my Marco! I am now ready for Chapter One, Page One. Maybe.

And it was on this day in 1810 that Lord Byron swam the Hellespont on his Grand Tour. This is still quite a feat today (every August, there’s a Turkish Remembrance Day Hellespont swimming race), and Byron accomplished it despite his clubbed foot! And then he wrote a poem about it.

For me, degenerate modern wretch,
Though in the genial month of May,
My dripping limbs I faintly stretch,
And think I’ve done a feat today

Do you swim? (I enjoy a few laps in the pool, but seriously doubt I could brave the Hellespont!) What do you do for Inspiration when starting a story?

Oh, and in my never-ending quest for the perfect English real estate, the place for great Riskies retreats, I found this property this week. Now I must go buy a lottery ticket…