For me, props---objects--- are the backbone for creating an atmosphere for whatever book I'm working on. Here is one more item that, it turns out, is just perfect for Raymond, my current story-interest.
I came across this tiny kid-leather coin purse in a thrift shop several years ago---before Raymond was even a gleam in my eye, so to speak.
Meant to slip over a narrow belt, its color and tactile feel was so entrancing that I had no choice---I had to purchase it. And when Raymond began to take shape, I realized that this coin purse was the perfect place to carry (hands-free) coins, keys, secret codes, or any other small items critical to a person of adventure.
Then---although this story's setting is quasi-Victorian, not Victorian---I needed to hear and see some Victorian language and expressions. They would inspire me as I chose, for example, Raymond's favorite exclamation of annoyance. It is the cover only of this book, PASSING ENGLISH, that looks modern. The book itself was published in Great Britain in 1909, the title word "Passing" indicating the fleeting nature of much slang. As I grazed through the book, I discovered that phrases from Great Britain often held echoes of the Vermont vernacular I had heard from old-timers as I was growing up (viz. "Adam's ale" for water). I discovered that many American slang phrases had been adopted by the British (viz. "Paint the town red"). And I discovered---to my delight---that much slang from that era is still in robust use today, and is in fact no longer just slang, but very much part of our modern vocabulary (viz. "crackpot.")
Lastly, there is music---always important to me as I create. Ragtime music was the music of rebellion, the music of youth, at the turn of the century---the music that parents shuddered over, the Victorian equivalent of Elvis Presley. As I listened to this teasing, sometimes outrageous music---its brash lilts and harmonies full of unexpected twists and turns---I realized---this is Raymond's music! When I need a reminder of who Raymond is, I will listen to this. And it will be the music I listen to as I am working on the finished art for this book.