Sunday, 7 October 2012

Starting Over

It’s that time again. I’ve been trying not to dwell on it too much, but with book two now sitting on my editor’s desk, my thoughts have turned to book three. It’s exciting to have that big blank page of possibility before me, and I’ve had the bones of a story rattling around for quite a while... but not the specifics. I like to establish the setting for my scenes early on so, with the luxury of a free Saturday yesterday, I decided to drive up to Bristol and do some location scouting.

My teenage son came with me – partly out of interest in the writing process, partly out of interest in where I was going to have lunch – and we had a day that was both enjoyable and productive.

We started out in Clifton Village. I knew I couldn’t set the story there, as it’s somewhere I’ve explored in previous work, but we visited some estate agents, picked up the property papers, and retired to BTP for brunch and some research reading. Much of book three takes place in a big old house that’s been converted to flats, and we scanned the papers as we ate, identifying which parts of the city had suitable properties. Then, after a very brief detour to Bar Chocolate (a truly wonderful artisan chocolate cafe near the Clifton Suspension Bridge) we jumped in the car and began driving around.

We explored a lot of different streets in a number of different neighbourhoods. It’s possible to remind yourself of details using online resources such as Google StreetView, but you don’t always get the real sense of atmosphere until you visit a place, and I wanted a location that felt right.

After an hour or two, we had seen several possibilities, but one seemed to stand out – a quite road in the Zetland / Montpelier area – so we drove back and took a second, longer look. Parking the car, I strolled up and down the street a few times, and explored the surrounding area, getting more and more excited. This was definitely the place!

There weren’t any estate agents’ boards on show, but hopefully a suitable flat will come on the market shortly – I’ve always found it helpful to get floor plans and interior photos for that added sense of realism. Who knows, I might even be able to arrange a viewing...

Our mission accomplished, we made our way to the Krispy Kreme donut shop at Avon Meads (I love the fact that a donut shop is so close to Avon & Somerset CID headquarters) before heading for home. It had been a really good day and it was pleasing to sense that something new was starting. Book three is well and truly underway!

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