Today, I welcome fellow Legend Press author and talented writer, Joanne Graham, to the blog to share with us her inspirations for the setting of her debut novel, Lacey’s House. Lacey’s House is a beautiful story crafted in poetic prose. You can read my full review here.
At the end of an overgrown country lane on the edge of a village sits Lacey’s house. If I think about the location I can easily see the branches that hang heavy over the narrow dirt track, the line of grass growing down the centre where car wheels never touch. I know what type of trees guard the entrance and what the lane smells like on a still summer day. But the lane, nor even the village itself, exist. The images I see are composites of memories and imagination.
When I was a little girl I grew up on the fringes of an old village. There were stories of an old witch who lived at the end of a lane near the church and I became fascinated with the thought of her, who was she, why was she so scary? I would stand at the wrought iron gate, looking into the darkness of the overgrown track wishing I had the courage to lift the latch and find out for myself. I wonder now if the old woman even existed but I will always be grateful for the seed that she planted in my imagination and the location she gave me for Lacey’s House.
In order to describe a setting I need to have experienced it, to know what the sky looks like as the sun goes down, if there are hills in the distance or the sound of a river nearby. The settings in Lacey’s House are places I have been. Where Rachel grew up in a children’s home in Norfolk was a few short miles from my childhood village with the witch’s lane. I know the big skies and flat lands that she looked at from her window. I know, too, the sweeping fells of Cumbria and the lush green beauty of Devon as they are places I have at one time or another called home.
Yet the village of Winscombe itself doesn’t exist. I have borrowed bits and pieces from various places I have lived. The tiny village of Exford on Exmoor leant me its hairpin bend; several villages provided the thatched and crooked houses, the graveyard and old church. The stream where Rachel sits and makes a tiny paper boat is similar to a place in Dorset where I used to go exploring as a teenager.
If I close my eyes I remember these places with all of my senses, the smell of the earth, the feeling of a crumbling gravestone beneath curious fingers, the taste of the cold, clear stream water. When I write descriptive scenes I close my mind and bring back those sensations, relive them and then spin them into words on the paper, weaving together the separate threads of memory and creating something new. The lane leading to Lacey’s house began in Norfolk and ended somewhere in Devon…it is longer than I realised!
Joanne Graham lives in rural Mid Devon, UK, with her two children and six cats. She spent her early twenties travelling the world before deciding to take life a bit more seriously. After studying Health and Social Welfare at university she worked in a prison and a school for teenagers displaying challenging behaviour before turning to inclusive education in a mainstream school. She has been writing since the tender age of eleven when her mother bought her a typewriter for her birthday.
Lacey’s House is the winner of the 2012 Luke Bitmead Bursary. Joanne is currently working on her second book.
The village of Winscombe, which is the setting for Lacey’s House, does not exist but there are many villages like it in rural Devon, one of which Joanne is fortunate enough to live in.
Joanne’s blog can found at http://joannegrahamblog.wordpress.com/about/
And she can be contacted via her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Miss.Jo.G