The setting of a novel is important for most readers.
The setting is the time and place where things take place. In the Accounting for Murder series, I chose the present time and the place was Wales, particularly Cardiff, where I used to live. The principality, the city and, in Book II, Castell Coch, provided an atmosphere and a character. If you know those places, I hope you will feel a familiarity; but if not, perhaps you will want to visit them. Anyway the stories should seem the more real because they are set somewhere that I know. I have given some information about DOWN in a recent blog.
Why choose a new setting for my new novel?
I lived in Bristol when I was a student and have loved the city ever since. The Downs and the Avon Gorge made an ideal setting for the events I had in mind. I do know of real cases of couples who fell to their deaths down the gorge while they were making love in the woods at the top. There have also been real cases of rape and assault on the Downs, whilst the Clifton Suspension Bridge has, sadly,been the place where many people have committed suicide over the years.
Why is the setting in the past this time?
- The Winter of Discontent was a turning point in our history. It marked the end of an era of rising trade union power and a growing public sector, among other things. That was followed by the election of the first Thatcher government and a new type of Conservatism. All this made it a fitting background for the novel.
- I wanted my hero to be someone who had served in the War, but was still not too old to be working. That made the late 1970’s or early 1980’s appropriate.
- Additionally, I wanted the cold case to involve someone who had been hanged, which meant the setting should not be so much later than the 1960’s as to take it out of people’s memories.
Will I use this setting again?
That depends partly on the feedback I get from DOWN. I might let Harry Lawton investigate another case or two. Perhaps I will alternate my stories between Bristol and Cardiff, as I love both cities and the present is an interesting time, just like 1978/9.
I hope you enjoy DOWN.