Lynne Milford won my Twitter competition to feature on my blog for a whole year with a series of guest posts. There was no post last month sadly as it was my turn to take a break, but Lynne is back this month talking about the setting of novels and where hers came from. I hope you enjoy it and please do feel free to let us know what you think of these posts.
All about Allensbury
Developing the setting of novel is important. Right out of the gate the setting will tell the reader what sort of book to expect. For example if it’s set on a space ship or involves dungeons and dragons you can probably assume that it’s sci-fi. Whatever genre you write in the setting immediately tells the reader what to expect.
It’s as important to get your setting right as it is to get your characters right. You want your work to be believable and as well as characters being realistic, your setting must fit the bill. I’m not just talking about a sense of place – atmosphere etc – I mean the actual stage where your story is set.
My first novel A Deadly Rejection is set in the fictional Kent town of Allensbury. I couldn’t tell you where the name came from. It’s been so long since I first wrote the book that the reasoning behind the name has vanished into the mists of my memory. But what I can say is there is a clear reason why the town looks the way it does.
As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog series, I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie. I love the tight social circles and country house settings and the tension that brings. I’m fascinated by the fact that in a place where everyone knows everyone’s business or can’t get away from each other, it becomes claustrophobic. Tempers can begin to flare and there’s extra pressure for those who have secrets they desperately need to keep.
So what I created was a medium-sized town, which looks very respectable. This was important because I wanted it to be a place which looks innocent on the surface but underneath it’s hiding a seedy side. It’s somewhere that bad things could happen without it seeming unlikely that the crime rate could be so high. It had to be big enough for a local daily newspaper – less common now than when I was first writing the book – but as my main character is a journalist I didn’t want him getting too bored. In reality, the Allensbury Post almost acts as a moral compass for the town, wheedling out the sins of its residents and holding them up to scrutiny.
Knowing that I wanted to use it in a series, the town needed to have a lot of different locations. Allensbury is a historic town, with a castle and an old fashioned town hall. It’s growing gradually as developers buy up land and build more houses -see A Deadly Rejection for what happens there.
We haven’t met a lot of these locations yet – a theatre which hosts plays and musical concerts, a museum and a dance and drama school. I’m sure there are other locations – perhaps the Fenleys department store – which may find themselves at the heart of Dan’s investigations or under the sharp eye of Detective Inspector Jude Burton and Detective Sergeant Mark Shepherd.
Will Allensbury turn out to be new Midsomer Murders with the highest body count in the south east? Who knows. All I know is that Allensbury has a lot more secrets to give up, whether it wants to or not. I just have to go and dig them out.
A Deadly Rejection is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. UK address is https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB
Catch up with me on Twitter @lmmilford or visit my website www.lmmilford.wordpress.com
Previous Guest Posts
First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey
Second guest post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?
Third guest post (March 2018) – Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection
Fourth guest post (April 2018) – Why you should write a series
Fifth guest post (May 2018) – What I do when I’m not writing
Sixth guest post (June 2018) – Extract + Competition
Seventh guest post (August 2018) – Why I love writing