One of my main sticking points in plotting and writing The FrankenIdea was figuring out how my protagonist, Liam, is helping his mother turn a small country house into a boutique hotel thing. I wrote a little about it last year, in this post.
Obviously, in doing so, they find Cool Shit in the House and records and such.
Only thing is, I had very little idea how I could dramatize that. Paperwork and building regulations don’t make good novels. I started looking up things like Historic England and the National Trust, but those tend to be for larger and older homes. And then I’d been Googling things like, “If a house is Listed, can it be renovated?” and I wasn’t really finding anything.
Then I found episodes of an old show on YouTube called Country House Rescue. Basically, a person visits various British country houses and helps the owners come up with plans to keep their property, sell their property, convert their property into businesses or help them set up business ventures so the property is financially viable…
Which is exactly what Liam’s family is trying to start!
(Of course, the FrankenIdea would not be a true FrankenIdea without unknown Secret Family Things which out out to be Historically Important and a plucky archivist with Family Secrets of her own)
The first episode I watched was about an eccentric woman, who bought a crumbling ruin of a Welsh castle called Plais Teg in the 1980s. She’d financed the restoration of the place herself with some help, but the bills were adding up and adding up. So she had to accept that putting together a Friends group of volunteers to help out at the house, to organize tours and meetings, and to have photoshoots and film shoots on the grounds and in the house would help the castle pay for itself.
If I recall correctly, Plais Teg was a Listed property, meaning it has historic value and certain parts of it cannot be tampered with.
I also watched this episode of Architectural Digest’s Open Door, where actor Dominic West and his wife Catherine gave a funny tour of Catherine’s family’s ancestral home in Ireland: Glin Castle, which was a hotel for a bit. I think they’re trying to operate it as a hotel again.