What’s not to love about research?
My next book, A Summer to Remember (2 May 2019), is set in north Norfolk. When I decided to make Clancy, the heroine, run away from A Situation in London, where better to run to than a remote village with rubbish mobile and broadband signals?
Writers vary in the way they choose their settings. Some choose real places; others create entire countries or even worlds. I’m comfortable with a technique halfway between these two as I create fictitious towns or villages set in proximity to real places, and my characters move between the two. The real places provide authenticity and the created places give me freedom. I don’t have to worry about whether you can really get from A to B in twenty minutes or whether a business I depict as a grotty pick up joint will be recognised.
I began with iMaps, searching the coast until I found a place where I felt I could realistically bisect the salt marshes and shove a headland in on which to build my village. I asked my street team, Team Sue Moorcroft, for suggested names for the village and took one from Manda Ward: Nelson’s Bar. Then I booked a couple of nights at a lovely pub in a village called Thornham, very close to my Nelson’s Bar spot, and set off on my research trip. Spending time on the coast in gorgeous sunny weather, taking photos and making notes – well, it doesn’t sound like hard work, does it?
Over the course of several days, I built up a collection of leaflets and maps from Hunstanton Tourist Information, books on local history at the pub where I stayed and, like most writers, I used the Internet to research businesses and study aerial views. It was essential to my plot to know where I could and couldn’t get a mobile signal so I did a lot of sending experimental texts too. North Norfolk has several of its own free newspapers and they were invaluable in getting a feel for the area. I read them in the pub garden with a glass of wine on a sunny evening.
And I spent hours and hours walking in the area. The salt marshes and the beaches, the villages and the resorts. I took hundreds of photos with my digital camera and my phone so, once home, I could check out the undulating stripy cliffs, the beach, the breakwaters … Pretty much anything I could think of was recorded whilst I was on the spot.
I don’t yet have the final cover of A Summer to Remember to share with you but it’s nearly ready! Meantime, if you’d like your appetite whetted, here’s the back-of-book blurb:
COME AND SPEND SUMMER BY THE SEA!
WANTED! A caretaker for Roundhouse Row holiday cottages.
WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems!
WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends.
WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.
PLEASE NOTE: We take no responsibility for any of the above scumbags, passengers and/or traitors walking back into your life…
GET IN TOUCH NOW TO MAKE THIS A SUMMER TO REMEMBER!
A Summer to Remember is available to preorder now and will be released in paperback, ebook and audio by Avon Books (HarperCollins) on 2 May 2019.