Of pirates and pasticci

Today I’m posting my travel notes from a trip to Malta in May. My pirate books for young readers (Swashbuckler!) are set in Malta and its oceans, so the visit was to confirm the research I’d done from the other side of the world.
If you’ve read these before, my apologies: use the links in the right hand column to find something more interesting.

Here’s my explanation about why I chose to set the books in Malta.

Day one
I really should not be left alone in a city of wooden boats, knights and really good door knockers.
I know I’m supposed to be doing very serious research but it’s gorgeous and you can’t help falling in love – the cities glow yellow, and sea and sky are ridiculously blue. The limestone is crumbling now, but it’s warm and honey coloured, and even the most impressive ramparts seem somehow welcoming (unless you’re a Turkish corsair, of course). Flew in a circle around the islands and it all seemed terribly familiar, except for the high rise apartments, which don’t feature in my unique 1798 picture of the archipelago. Then the first things I saw when I arrived was a restaurant called Il Pirata and a house called Lily [the name of the main character in Swashbuckler!]. Mind you I have since seen houses called Eileen, Doris and Elvis.
Then I opened the curtains in my hotel room and a schooner sailed past.

Day three
Am resting up after a day of scrambling around dusty old forts. Having invented a series of secret tunnels under Vittoriosa for Swashbuckler! book 3, today I found some real life ones, and there was some very undignified squeezing through rusty iron gates and crawling along drainage ditches (which I’d also invented).
Tomorrow I have a guide, driver and car, courtesy of the Tourism Authority, so I’m going to make them climb up cliffs and trudge around fictional swordfight sites. The day after, I’m going to find myself a boat.

Trip notes continue here.

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