Setting is such an important part of every book, and it’s much easier to write about a place if you know the location well. The Paradise Trees takes place in Yorkshire, The Cold Cold Sea in Cornwall. I’ve visited both places several times, which made it easy to imagine my characters as they went about their business in my books.
My third book, The Attic Room, is due out next month and follows the stories of mother and daughter Claire and Nina. This time, the action takes place in several different locations.
Chapter One begins on the lovely Isle of Arran, where I spent my teenage summers with a schoolfriend and her family. Their holiday home was a converted cowshed and the view over the Firth of Clyde is amazing. The Attic Room starts with Nina sitting outside her island home looking at the view here. I took this photo on a very windy day, but it’s spectacular in every kind of weather.
The story shifts to Bedfordshire where the same friend had a couple of homes over the years. Her hospitality allowed me to picture Nina and Claire in the area. It’s maybe not quite as picturesque as Arran, but still a pleasant place to live. (Or it would have been if there hadn’t been all the complicated stuff going on in the book…)
From Bedford, the story moves to Edinburgh, where my godmother still lives. I holidayed there with her as a child, and also spent three ‘tourist’ holidays in the city with my sons, so I know the place quite well. Claire and Nina see the squirrels in Princes Street Gardens, and look up to the amazing Edinburgh Castle towering above them.
Then it’s back to the island for Claire and Nina. It isn’t quite as straightforward as this, though, because for much of the book they aren’t travelling together, this mother and daughter duo. And one of them has lied to the other about something very important… but more of that another time.