I’m a very visual person with an overactive imagination (or so my mother constantly told me when I was young). I like to step into my character’s shoes, want my reader’s to feel their journey.
As writers, we painstakingly research our novels: probe the internet, read books, articles, interview others. But sometimes you need that firsthand experience to touch, smell, hear and see something for yourself. Which is what led me to a Sunday afternoon, family walk in search of deposition sites for a body…
An Unfamiliar Murder is set in the fictional town of Hampton, loosely based on my home in Northants, England. There is a scene in the book set on Bracken Way, based on the very real Brampton Valley Way, a disused railway line, given over to walkers and cyclists.
So, unbeknown to the families cycling past, couples picnicking at designated sites, the dog trudging at my side, my ten year old climbing every available tree – my husband and I ambled down the Brampton Valley Way, pausing to examine mine shafts, drains, even a disused pump house – discussing the advantages and disadvantages of storing a body and searching for secluded meeting places. I was able to touch the stone, listen to the birds in the trees, smell the air around, analyse the scenes; all valuable tools to be used in my descriptions later.
This proved to be a very lucrative afternoon of research which resulted in my coming home and writing a chapter of my novel. A chapter which included a very important scene – the scene that appears on the front of the book.
And here is where I share the secret – this is the tunnel entrance on the very real Brampton Valley Way.
And this is the front of my novel.
Having signed with an American publishing house, this photo for my cover art was taken in the great USA. I sent the photographer many images and descriptions of the real site and she did a wonderful job of emulating it with a similar site she found in the US. Can you notice any differences?