There seem to be two kinds of reader. Some like a mystery novel to concentrate on the whodunit and not stray into social or political issues. Others are interested in digging deeper into the characters and the setting. Agatha Christie or Ian Rankin?
What about me? I believe in making my characters and settings realistic and credible. I intend to set most of my books in Wales in the Twenty-first Century. I hope you will identify with some of my characters and situations. Even if you are English.
Does this mean that I will always be writing about poverty and ‘gritty realism’? No! The middle classes are just as real as the rest. The suburbs are as interesting to me as the inner city. I will be drawing on people and places I know. Not all my acquaintances live in poverty. Neither do they live in big country houses or on remote islands.
The Cardiff I know has a castle and a cathedral. It also has its Marina and the Millenium Stadium. I know farmers and coal miners. I also know website designers and mobile ’phone salesmen. I know people who claim to be descended from old Welsh heroes and can recite poetry in Welsh. I also know people of Irish, Italian, Polish, Asian and Afro-Caribbean descent. Even some English people. I know a few words of Welsh and a lot of Wenglish, especially the Cardiff variety.
In Wales today there are problems of poverty, unemployment, social and individual injustice, race, class, gender and religion as much as in the rest of Britain. None of these issues are the principal themes in my books but, if none of my characters were to encounter any of these things, it would be very strange. I am not writing about a fantasy world or completely imaginary people.
I may yet set one of my stories in a country mansion or a barely-inhabited island. But they will not be isolated from the problems and the opportunities of the modern world.
Do not forget, however, that I am writing mysteries, whodunits, thrillers. Not political treatises. I hope the settings will not get in the way of the stories but will enhance them. My hero will be more concerned with finding the villain than with reforming Society.