Monday, 22 September 2008

The Creation of Place


P.D. James is famously inspired to conceive her novels by a particular locale. My imagination doesn’t work in the same way. I’m not really a visual thinker, and often I paint in the details of setting after working out the main plot.

So it is with the Lake District Mystery I’m writing at present. It’s not giving the game away to say that Hannah Scarlett and Marc Amos have bought a new house, near Ambleside. But so far, in the first draft, I haven’t described their home in much detail.

I’m hoping that will change now that I have stayed at Pinethwaite, the delightful home of Paul Flint, the bursar of Windermere St Annes School, and his family. The original house was built towards the end of the 19th century, but it has been much changed since then and is now absolutely full of atmosphere. As Geraint Lewis and I shared a glass of wine with Paul after our authors’ evening together, it struck me that the house would be a great place for Hannah to live (especially as Paul is a fan of Hannah’s!)

Next morning I woke to the stillness of a sunny day deep in the Cumbrian countryside. It really was delightful – and, for an author, inspirational too. You can expect to find a version of Pinethwaite, albeit much changed, somewhere in the next Lakes book.

4 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

It's a little bit of heaven there. Stayed at the most wonderful B & B.

Ed Gorman said...

One of the things I miss in this stripped down era is a sense of place in fiction. Doesn't have to be long but does have to put me someplace. And it doesn't even have to be "place description" as such. Giving readers a brief incisive story about the town or city the tale is set in also does the job. Hammett said a lot in Red Harvest when he told us that the nickname of the place was "Poisonville"--it described the polluted air plus the murderous corruption of the place. But then I'm old fashioned-I don't even mind a paragraph of gifted nature description. God forbid.

maxine said...

Lovely picture, Martin, and needless to say I am very much looking forward to the book. Novels that convey a sense of place are perfection in my eyes. I've been fortunate enough to read many such books in the past year or two, not the least among them the Lake District novels you've written and of course Waterloo Sunset and the "new" Liverpool. (I am smiling a lot these days when I see the ads in the news magazines! Seems rather old hat to the Harry Devlin readers. In the nicest possible way.)

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks very much for these comments.
Maxine, there will be more about the intensely fascinating old Liverpool, as well as the new, before long!