Archives for setting

Researching the escalator scene

There’s a point in Ignoring Gravity when Rose opens a letter, a letter which knocks her senses into a spin, she opens it when she is standing on an escalator at Westminster underground station in London. As she tries to understand the words on the paper, London commuters rush around her as if she is a pebble battered by a rising tide. This the story of researching that scene.“She stumbled off the bottom of the escalator. The heat in the tiled tunnel was overpowering. A woman was walking towards her with a white-wrapped bundle strapped to her chest, and from it a tuft of hair reached for the sky as if styled by static.” “Rose stopped dead in her tracks and howled inside. It was a scream stored deep inside her all these years.” “Later she had no memory of either the Jubilee line train or the DLR. She felt as if she’d been spun in a tumble drier. Her mobile got its signal back as the train rose above ground and beeped as it came to life. She took it out of her bag and dialled. There was one person who would be torn by the sight of an infant.” 
Read More

Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity', On Researching and On Writing.

Why Rose Haldane lives in Southfields

It’s simple really, when Rose first came into being as that writing exercise, I lived in Wimbledon and my nearest tube station was Southfields. So that’s where Rose lived too. I would walk down the hill towards Wimbledon Park, then along Wimbledon Park Road to choose a coffee shop to write in for the afternoon. Sometimes I sat in Southfields Library, sometimes on a bench in the park. So Rose’s surroundings were very real to me. That’s where the first chapters became Finding Rose, which finally evolved into Ignoring Gravity. I imagined Rose living in a flat, upstairs, in a house like this. This is her library, where she borrows the books for her ‘adoption fest’ weekend. Wimbledon Park Road, with the Lawn Tennis Club in one direction and the tube station in the other, is a quiet offshoot of Wimbledon which comes to life in June every year when the whole area is festooned with parking cones and blue and purple bunting. This is the context in which Rose lives, when she discovers at the age of 35 that she is adopted.   To read what readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. Don’t miss the next book
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

I agree with… Michèle Forbes

Michèle Forbes “In retrospect, it was obvious it was something I knew and it had resonance. I was born there, grew up there, and I felt I had to reconnect with the place. I guess there is something of a preoccupation because I left; there is almost a guilt.” [in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, September 20, 2013] Forbes was born in Belfast and her debut novel Ghost Moth is set in Northern Ireland. Although she was keen to avoid it being labelled as ‘a book about The Troubles’, she felt compelled to write about the place of her birth. I understand the feeling that draws a writer homeward. One of the two key protagonists in my second novel Connectedness was born in Yorkshire and grew up where I grew up. I didn’t plan it that way, somewhere along the road of character development, writing exercises, putting myself into Justine’s head, I realised she came from East Yorkshire, like me. It was fact. That wild eastern edge of Yorkshire which juts out into the North Sea and is battered by the bleakest of winter weather shaped Justine as it shaped me. It drew me to explore how landscape impacts on
Read More

Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Connectedness' and On Writing.

My top 5… novels in an English setting

Some of our best-loved novels have a strong sense of place. Setting can be an additional character. These are the English novels which, for me, create immediately for me the landscape in which they are set. ‘Waterland’ by Graham Swift [UK: Vintage] “For, flood or no flood, the Leem brought down its unceasing booty of debris. Willow branches; alder branches; sedge; fencing; crates; old clothes; dead sheep; bottles; potato sacks; straw bales; fruit boxes; fertiliser bags. All floated down on the westerly current, lodged against the sluice-gate and had to be cleared away with boat-hooks and weed-rakes.” ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy [UK: Penguin Classics] “The river had stolen from the higher tracts and brought in particles to the vale all this horizontal land; and now, exhausted, aged, and attenuated, lay serpentining along through the midst of its former spoils. “Not quite sure of her direction Tess stood still upon the hemmed expanse of verdant flatness, like a fly on a billiard-table of indefinite length, and of no more consequence to the surroundings than that fly. The sole effect of her presence upon the placid valley so far had bee to excite the mind of a solitary heron,
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.