Setting

Pendleford is in Wiltshire, just a few miles from the beautiful Georgian city of Bath, and is based on the real-life town of Bradford-On-Avon.

My lovely in-laws, who live in the in the area, took these photos of Bradford-On-Avon (thanks again!) and I wrote about the setting for my publishers. Here you go:

During the seven years after university, I lived in Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire (in three different houses, not one weird gigantic one) and although I have lived in Scotland for eight years since (and grew up in Wales) that part of England must have seeped into my subconscious in a big way.

When I started The Language of Spells, I found the area around Bath was the first setting which sprang to mind and it instantly felt right. Not only do you have the beautiful countryside, with quaint villages and market towns and thatched cottages with rambling gardens, but it also has a reputation for mystical energy.

BOA_streetThere are crop circles, a chalk horse carved into a hillside, neolithic burial grounds, ley lines and ancient standing stones; the whole area is littered with the evidence of beliefs and traditions, both past and present. Belief is, of course, a powerful thing. I took the idea of this power and ramped it up, imagining a modern world in which magic exists.

I wanted the book to remain firmly rooted in contemporary Britain, but also have an other-worldly, timeless feel – in the same way that the standing stones of Avebury sit patiently alongside tourists with digital cameras.

I decided to make up a town in which to set the story, but I based it on my memories of Bradford On Avon. If you know Wiltshire, you may recognise the cobbled streets of Pendleford, or that the river running through the town is the River Avon in an alternate reality.

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However, I didn’t do any particular research (save putting a photo of the town’s picturesque centre into my book collage) as I wanted to be inspired, not constrained, by the place.

I think, with hindsight, this is why I didn’t think to use my home country (Scotland) as the setting. It’s too close. Too real. I needed a place which had mulched down in my subconscious to inhabit the place in which the real world and imagination collide. That is, after all, where the really interesting things happen.

[Originally published on the Carina site, reproduced here with kind permission from Carina UK]