Part of the next Darkening stone book is set in the Mediaeval tunnels beneath Exeter. Very spooky. Very atmospheric.
Is it important to have somewhere real in mind as you write?
I think it helps – at least at first. For instance, I played in this abandoned quarry as a child, and it must have informed my writing about Scaderstone Pit. This old quarry was used an illegal dumping ground at one point, and it was below a playing field, but it isn't anything like as big as Scaderstone Pit.
Once I get going, I create a new world in my mind, so I don't want to be hampered by the limitations of the real world. The quarry pictured above does not look anything like Scaderstone Pit, which of course doesn't exist. In case you're wondering, the name Scaderstone comes from the Old English words for shadow or shade (sceadu) and stone (stan).
I do believe it's vital to be consistent with your created world though. Personally, I just scribble maps and notes onto paper or index cards.
Here are a couple of examples:
There's no sense of scale here. They're really just disgrams to help me remember where things are in relation to each other. I refer to them whenever the location is important. In the latest Darkeningstone book, there's a car chase of sorts, and it felt like cheating if the journey wouldn't be possible. I had to make sure that when I say the car veered around a corner to the left, it wouldn't end up somewhere stupid. But I didn't map out the whole town.
Similarly, the Exeter Passages are real, but although I've invented the layout of the tunnels, there really is an old part that you can't go into. I've added a barred gate to make it more of a challenge, but the idea was sparked by reality.
That's it for today. I hope to post up more of thought processes, such as they are, in this category: Writing Journey Posts .
I hope you enjoy them – and if you do, please leave comments and share the posts as if your life depended on it. Which it doesn't of course. And no, that noise isn't me sneaking up on you. It really, really isn't.