Saturday 23 July 2011


After an early start and just barely catching the train, I spent the day in Bristol, scouting locations and learning more about different areas of the city. It's become clear to me that my original plan for Book 2 will need some significant alterations, one of which is a change to the first killing - different victim, different setting, different everything. Fortunately it's not as daunting as it might sound. Indeed, parts of Eye Contact underwent several shifts until they snapped into alignment, and it was a similar process with today's trip.

Certain places seem to act as catalysts for ideas. I'm not a New-Age type and I don't believe in ley-lines and all that jazz, but as I drift around a city there can be an almost tangible sense of "getting warmer" or "getting colder". And when there's time to look around, that can be very productive.

Last time I was in Bristol, I followed a whim and took a bus from Templemeads to Clifton Down. By chance, I chose the longer route and it took me through a number of places I'd not really seen before. One of these was Redland, and it's been on my mind ever since.

Today, I got the train straight through to Redland station. The area around it is lovely, and I had a great time exploring. I found a great house that would suit my new victim-to-be, and took a look around her neighbourhood to understand what it would be like living there.

I've been thinking that this character should work somewhere around the Clifton Village (keeping as far from the location in the first book as I can) so I took the bus from her local stop to see what the commute was like.

As luck would have it, the bus stop where I got off was close to a sign that mentioned Clifton Arcade. I'd never heard of it before, so I ducked down a side street and entered a truly charming little Victorian mall. Again, as soon as I stepped inside, something clicked and I knew that this was where my character should work.

After a helpful shop owner patiently answered my evasive questions (well, I didn't want to spook her!) and a nearby cafe fixed me up with a genuinely magnificent all-day breakfast, I thought I'd head over to the other side of town and visit my detective's house.

Stackpool Road is somewhere I've been before, but only briefly and only in my car. Walking there, then walking into town from there, has given me a great insight into what it would be like to live in that part of Bristol. Hopefully, that will come across in the Eye Contact edits, as well as the sequel. In any event, I got that same feeling of correctness that I had in Redland and Clifton Village.

Three out of three! And there's still half a weekend left to go...

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