research

12. Writing about Kitesurfing

Welcome to my blog on Writing about Kitesurfing.

When I confess that I knew nothing about this sport  you will probably ask me – why did I want to include kitesurfing in my novel BOOK OF HOURS?

And the answer is quite simple.
I’ve been attracted to the colourful array of kites and amazed at the speed of the kiters for many years. I love the way they glide seemingly effortlessly through the air, their acrobatics and grace.

mandelieu-kitesurfing

It’s a sport that takes incredible balance and understanding as well as stamina and energy.
I imagine the solitude on the water and the thrill of travelling fast, flying high and letting the wind lift you over the waves and up into the air… Living in Whitstable and having lived in Spain for many years I’ve sat gazing out to sea watching and admiring the skill of the kiters.
My protagonist, Mikky dos Santos is a complex character; sensitive yet fiercely independent, vulnerable yet strong. As I write about her I understand her more and get to know what excites her and where her passion lies. I know kitesurfing gives her the thrill and excitement she seeks. It’s the one sport that gives her the freedom and exhilaration she craves and in order to write about it – I needed help.

Stefano, an avid kitesurfer who I was introduced to at a party, invited me to the beach and he talked me through the kitesurfing equipment, how it fitted together and how it was used. He shared his blog and sent me several video links on equipment and self launching. He also introduced me to Sarah.

Sarah from Aquilo Kiteboarding has been an invaluable help. We met for coffee and I explained the outline of my novel and the plot points for the kitesurfing scenes. I needed Mikky’s experiences to be plausible and realistic. Fortunately Sarah knows Tarifa and La Bolonia, the locations of the the opening and closing scenes in BOOK OF HOURS, so we were able to discuss the feasibility of Mikky’s technique and logical sequence of self-launching.

Sarah understood the location and the elements in Spain and she showed me books, drawings and diagrams. She explained about downwinders, kiters’ techniques and what the various processes entail.

As an additional bonus, Sarah very kindly re-enacted and made a video of how a kiter would self-launch as I describe in the book. She timed the distance of Mikky’s sprint and counted the seconds as she connected her harness and picked up the board and self-launched.

Having written a working draft of the novel, I sent the relevant chapters / scenes to Stefano and Sarah for them to check. It’s not an easy task to read great chunks of a novel but both of them have worked with me to ensure my terminology and language for the sport is correct and that the kiters’ speak is authentic.

But I hasten to add, any mistakes and oversights are mine. I cannot praise them enough for their help.

Without their willingness to share their experiences and to correct my early drafts, the authenticity of the book would have been under serious threat. Any reader, who is also a kiter would have lost faith in me as an author. I am pleased that I have learnt so much.
It’s at times like this when I do my job that I feel lucky to be an author and to be able to learn from experienced and skilled people who love what they do. Their encouragement and enthusiasm spur me on to learn more.
REMEMBER: Talk to everyone. Had I not had the confidence to mention to a friend that I would like to talk to a kitesurfer I’d never have met such incredible people.

 

NEXT BLOG: Researching Manuscripts.

LINKS: 

Stefano’s kitesurfing blog

Aquilo Kiteboarding 

Video of Sarah Re-enacting Mikky’s kitesurfing scene 

Janet Pywell

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