Anna, the heroine of my debut mystery, You Think You Know Me, is in a smart London gallery when she meets the man who calls himself Max. She feels an instant connection with him, but then she finds he’s given her a false name…
Anna’s London is a world of bright lights, wintery glitter and parties. The setting mirrors her excitement, and the jittery nerves sparked off by the events that overtake her.
Anna’s lodging in Hampstead whilst she pursues her career as a freelance journalist. Asking questions is second nature, but a little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing…
I went to University in London, still visit regularly and love its incredible variety. My college, Westfield, was based in Hampstead, which influenced my choice of location. It was an expensive place to be a student, and full of tempting restaurants and pubs. Walks on the Heath were a good budget option when it came to entertainment!
I found using Hampstead, and London more broadly, had advantages but also pitfalls. I haven’t lived there for twenty years, which means it’s regained its mystery. I can see its quirks and curiosities all the more clearly now I’m not an insider. On the other hand, I’m out of touch. I took these photos when I went back to check my facts. I couldn’t remember if it was possible to feel isolated in Back Lane. The answer was no, not when you consider that the Flask pub is at the bottom of the road… Maybe at three in the morning, but…
Further investigation also revealed that I’d sent my characters on tortuous tube journeys when it would have been quicker for them to walk. Cue further editing… So being partially familiar with the territory was the issue; if you know you don’t know then that’s fine. I kept thinking I did know, but then finding I’d been deluding myself… I hope I didn’t miss anything in my checking. I love London, and I want to have done it justice. It provided just the atmosphere I needed for most of the book.
In search of the truth, Anna travels from the frenetic capital to the lonely winter landscape of the Lakes, surrounded by the towering fells. It’s an isolated spot to run into trouble. I liked the stark contrast of the settings, and have visited the area recently enough to know that mobile coverage is still remarkably patchy up there… a pain when you’re a tourist, but darned handy when you’re writing a mystery!
To finish, a London song (any excuse):
4 thoughts on “The perils of the partially familiar location – London calling”
I was utterly convinced by Anna’s world, Clare. I loved the book and its locations. I’m also a fan of this song!
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Thanks very much, Chris – I’m so pleased it rang true! Glad you like the song too – it’s an old favourite of mine and seemed more or less on topic! x
Interesting post and proves the need to check up on things we think we know!
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Thanks so much, Angela – I was surprised at some of the things I’d forgotten, but it was great fun going back to my old haunts to check my facts. x