Setting the scene in a familiar place

I have only written one novel which is set in a real place as opposed to an imaginary one. In Flipside the action takes place in Oldham in the actual area where I lived for nearly fifteen years, Lees. I made up roads, and pubs and two schools and café, and most importantly an old mill,  but the real library featured in several scenes, the cemetery, a country walk, some actual pubs… In some ways I found it straightforward, because describing the area only needed me to walk out of the door and wander round the village, or get in the car and river out onto the moors. However, there were things which I had to be very careful about… it was no use saying it would take ten minutes to walk somewhere if really it took half an hour. I had to make sure that geographically certain things were possible. In my imaginary locations I can add in extra roads, create shortcuts, build motorways if I want!

I have just started reading a book called As The Crow Flies by Damian Boyd which is set here in Somerset! The first scene takes place in Cheddar, just ten miles away. The main character goes for walks in places I’ve walked, lives in a town I’ve often visited, and there are references to all sorts of local things. I have only just started reading it, so I don’t know if he actually visits our town of Weston-super-Mare, but there are seven books in the series so it’s likely that at some point our little seaside town will get a mention!

It got me thinking… our little village is really interesting and full of character (and full of characters!) it would be quite a challenge to me to write something set right here. Because the main road from Weston going south now bypasses the village, it’s quite a quiet place; people only come into the village to go to the schools, or the pubs, or the village shop, or the churches or physiotherapist, or the restaurant or café or go to the boatyard, or go along the hideous new cycle track, or walk down to the beach or walk up over the hill. It’s a busy little place with lots of village activities, so there is plenty of scope for an adventure… However, because it is quite a small place, I would worry that people might think a character I describe is a real person, that quite accidentally I have a plot line which is similar to a real event…

A dilemma… maybe I won’t use our little village in fiction, maybe I will just content myself with writing about it here!

here is a link to my novels – apart from Flipside, all are set in a completely imaginary place!

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