Friday, 14 August 2015

Step into my world

Prince Rupert Street, Shrewsbury
As my first Esme novel was inspired by family history and my ancestors hail from Shropshire, it seemed appropriate to set BLOOD-TIED in the county. With the historic town of Shrewsbury, numerous outlying villages, the nearby canal network and the wild landscape of The Long Mynd to chose from, it had potential for a wide variety of scenes.

The Long Mynd
But should I change the locations into fictional places or stick with their real names? In the end I opted for a mixture of both. Shrewsbury became Shropton (in fact, I'm not sure that the county town of Shropshire wouldn't be better named Shropton, i.e. Shrop-town!) and The Long Mynd, by contrast, retained its identity.

When it came to writing THE INDELIBLE STAIN, the inspiration had come from reading about 

© Peter Keene
19th century sailing ships transporting convicts to Australia. I decided I needed a coastal scene with dramatic cliffs from which my victim would fall.
The area around Hartland in North Devon was a perfect choice and I used a tiny former port for many of the scenes, re-naming it Warren Quay so I could add extra houses and reinstate the harbour the real location had once had, until it was washed away in a violent storm in 1896.

I'm now immersed in the first draft of the third Esme mystery, as yet untitled, and my mind is buzzing as I start to match my scenes with places. So, without giving too much away, I'll share a couple of photos with you of possible locations. That's all I'm saying for now!

What's your preference for settings? Do you like reading about real places or fictional ones? Do you have a favourite book set in a place you know and love? I'd be interested to hear your views.


  1. I like stories where the setting plays an important part in the plot, but if a real location is used the writer must get all the details right as well as capturing the essence of a place. I once read a novel that mentioned a real town I know well, but the author included a 'fact' that seemed wrong to me. I had to stop reading to check who was right - him or me. It spoiled my enjoyment of what was otherwise a good story.
    The novel I'm working on is set in a village and market town which are based on real places (it helps me to see them quite clearly) but I've given them fictional names partly because the story could take place in any English village or market town, but also because I don't want to give a reader the chance to say 'you've got that bit wrong'!

    1. Yes, creating a fictional places has its advantages, doesn't it? From a reader's perspective I like having a place set in somewhere I know but I don't mind if the writer adds an extra something, like a house, which actually doesn't exist. I'm quite happy with the mix. But I do agree, it can jar if a 'fact' is wrong! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Linda. :-)

  2. I do like the two photos of your possible new locations - what attractive places. The first picture has real atmosphere. I don't mind whether a book's location is real or imagined, but I agree with Linda's comment about the importance of accuracy if the writer uses a real place. If the setting is crucial to the plot, it can add an extra layer of enjoyment to the book. One excellent example is 'The Italian House' by Teresa Crane - a book guaranteed to make you want to sell up and go to live in Tuscany, because the atmosphere and setting of the book are so well-drawn.

    1. I think it's the family historian in me which loves the atmosphere of churchyards! I always visit them if I get a chance, where ever we go. It's that link back through history, I guess.
      I've never been to Tuscany, though we nearly booked a villa there once. For some reason it didn't happen. I've always liked the look of it as a location so I will definitely check out The Italian House. Thanks, Susanna!