Today I welcome fellow Legend Press author, Linda Huber, to the blog to share with us her inspirations for the setting of her debut novel, The Paradise Trees. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel which is a real page turner. You can read my full review here. Over to you, Linda.
Things aren’t always what they seem…
When I’m writing, whether it’s a novel or a short story, location is all-important. I’ve rarely set a story in a place I haven’t visited personally, and certainly never a novel. To write convincingly and confidently I need to be able to look at the sky, feel the wind in my hair and generally get the smell of a place before I start.
That doesn’t mean all the places I write about can be found on a map. In The Paradise Trees, the ‘big places’ mentioned, York and Bedford, are of course real and are home to a couple of friends as well as some of my family; but the trio of Yorkshire villages – Lower, Middle and Upper Banford, are entirely fictional.
And yet they do exist. The main action in The Paradise Trees takes place in and around Lower Banford, so I needed to make the village believable.
Problem 1 – the only village I really know in the sense of having lived there is on a west coast island. Whiting Bay on the Isle of Arran, to be exact. (I spent many happy teenage summers both holidaying and summer-jobbing there.)
Problem 2 – an island location really didn’t fit the plot of my book. I needed a more central place, somewhere the family in the story could drive back and forwards to without putting themselves at the mercy of ferry boats which in turn are at the mercy of the Scottish weather (‘nuff said!); also a place where an international business conference might realistically be held nearby without straining coincidence too far.
So I took Whiting Bay plus two neighbouring island villages, turned them into Lower, Middle and Upper Banford, and put them ‘somewhere in Yorkshire’, slightly less than an hour’s bus trip from York.
This meant that I had the exact feeling of my village. I knew the special atmosphere, I knew the way the local people interacted with each other, and I knew what it would be like to go there from a bigger place to stay for the summer, like Alicia and Jenny did in The Paradise Trees.
With my fictional village settled, I turned my attention to the woods which play such a big part in my plot.
I was a city child; I don’t remember ever playing in woodland. But here in Switzerland there’s a lovely little wood just five minutes from my front door and it’s exactly the right size. If you stood at one end and yelled for all you were worth, your eight-year-old daughter playing out of sight amongst the trees would hear you. Just what I needed for Jenny and her mum. Nothing easier for me than to stand in the middle of my own wood and listen, and smell, and feel the magic that Jenny would feel.
So there you have it. The Paradise Trees is set in a Yorkshire village originating on a west coast island with a Swiss wood at the bottom of the garden.
Location is everything – or so they say.
About the author:
Childhood in Glasgow; started writing stories aged about seven; trained as physiotherapist in large city hospital; worked with mainly neurological patients.
Moved to Switzerland originally for a year but got stuck; retrained as language teacher; never stopped writing; 50+ short stories/articles published; The Paradise Trees is her first published novel.
You can reach Linda here.