I’m a little bit behind on my reading so I don’t have a review for you today but on Thursday it will be my turn on the Sealskin tour. This is a wonderful book by Su Bristow and I absolutely loved it, so look out for that later in the week. For today though, I thought I would be brave and finally share a bit more about my own writing. I haven’t done this since my first blog post so, eek, here it goes!
Last week, over half-term, I dragged my husband and children round Wiltshire for a couple of days so I could do some research. I had already done a lot of stuff online, even finding a place, via Google Earth, that was suitable for a crime scene. It’s a small wood near a railway line and there appeared to be a track from the main road that would take us there. We found it and my husband, very expertly, drove us down a pot-holed and very muddy track. Suddenly the views I’d seen online became very real and the storyline now seemed possible. I could imagine my police officers walking the same pathway as me, hearing the same birds (including a woodpecker) and the fast train that whizzed by on its way to Cornwall. We met a really lovely lady who was walking her dogs and she gave us some fascinating information about the area. The wood is called Wroughton’s Folly (and also, I discovered later, Maggot’s Wood – very apt for finding a body) and the track itself is reputed to be haunted. Seymour Wroughton was killed in 1789 when he drove his carriage and horses down the lane too recklessly one night. Legend has it that you can hear the noise of the horses and carriage at night. This is all great information for the book I’m writing now, currently titled ‘Falling’ which is the second book in my DI Bernie Noel series.
The first book is called ‘Missing’ and is about a child that goes missing from a playground in a local village. Although I have Bernie and her team based in Devizes, the villages in my books are fictional. It was great to drive around and spend some time in Devizes itself to get a feel for the place. Devizes is a quiet market town in Wiltshire that has the Kennet and Avon canal running through it. It’s also home to the Wiltshire Police Headquarters. One key shop in my stories is a baker’s and we managed to find a great bakery called Reeve the Baker. It exactly fits the bill for the books and I think their giant ring doughnut is going to have to be mentioned at some point! (Sadly I didn’t take a photo).
The last place that I really wanted to visit is from a scene in ‘Missing’. The White Horse is to the north of Devizes and thankfully, was accessible by road (our car was a bit of a mess by the end of the day). Again, using Google Earth, I had seen that there was a small woodland not far from the White Horse. By driving up there, we discovered that it’s called Leipzig Plantation and is owned by Wiltshire Council. Due to lack of suitable footwear and some grumbling children, we didn’t manage to go in but I found the pathway that leads into it. When I come to edit that scene, I’ll do it with more knowledgeable eyes now. Yes, I saw a lot of it through Google Earth, but that doesn’t give a sense of place – the sounds, the smells, the people who live there. It’s made me realise how important it is to go and visit the places you write about. In ‘Falling’, part of the story happens in Florence…
The only slight downside to all this, is that I don’t have a contact in Wiltshire Police to find out if I have my police procedure set up correctly for Wiltshire. Without realising it, we actually parked in a car park next to Devizes Police Station. So one thing I have found out, is that they have 4×4 vehicle for the Rural Crime Team. That’s definitely going to be needed for that bumpy track! So a plea to Wiltshire Police – is there anyone who can answer a few questions for me please? And just to encourage you, my 7 year old has decided he wants to illustrate my books. Here’s one of his drawings.