Setting the Scene

When I plan a new book, first and foremost in my mind are my characters, and the dramas I’m about to put them through. I might have an idea of surroundings, but I don’t normally firm up the location until I’m literally about to start writing that first chapter. That’s not usually a problem as I tend to base many of my books in Liverpool where I live, so I ought to know it quite well.

I like setting scenes in areas of Liverpool that aren’t so well-known, but are familiar to me – or so I presume until I have to describe something in detail. There have been quite a few times when I’ve had to make an emergency dash so I can describe the colour of a particular set of railings, or the view from a particular entrance.

Sometimes I’ll use a little poetic licence and alter locations if there’s something about the setting that doesn’t quite work, and I also mix things up deliberately to avoid moving my characters into some poor unsuspecting person’s home. In The Missing Husband, you won’t find Beaumont Avenue in Liverpool, and you’d be hard pressed to find the short cut to West Allerton station.

There was one time when I almost came unstuck trying to find the right location for my novel. In Where I Found You, there’s a park that’s central to the plot as it’s where my main characters frequently meet. Before I’d even begun to write the story, I’d formed a very clear picture in my head of what it should look like – only to realise that of all the parks I knew in Liverpool, none were quite right. I extended the search using Google Earth but to no avail, the park didn’t exist anywhere except in my imagination, and that was why I created a whole new town called Sedgefield, which is nestled ‘somewhere,’ in the Cheshire countryside.

The Affair Out NowI returned to Sedgefield in my novella If I Should Go, and more recently in The Affair. When I was planning The Affair, I knew straight away that I didn’t want to use a real location, or more to the point, I didn’t want to use a real school. The story focuses on a pregnant school girl called Scarlett, and it’s her teacher who falls under suspicion. It felt wrong scandalising a school that actually existed. What would the pupils think, or the teachers for that matter? Despite the chaos I unleashed on the town this time around, I enjoyed my return visit to Sedgefield, and there’s always a chance I’ll go back there again some day.

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8 thoughts on “Setting the Scene

  1. Dear wonderful Amanda,
    So looking forward to reading The Affair. Sounds like it’s going to be quite a read, as your other novels have proved to be. You put so much into your novels and the beauty of your writing brings the story to life in such an incredibly moving way. I end up feeling like an invisible member of the family who’s observing the events as they unfold. Wishing you lots of luck and success always.
    Much love and hugs xxx

  2. Hi Amanda, just finished The Affair, WOW, what a fantastic book. It kept me gripped all the way through. I don’t think I have ever read a book so fast, couldn’t put it down. I have read all your books and they are all fabulous. Really can’t wait for the next one. Do you think you will be doing any book signings this year? Xxxxx

  3. Hello Amanda. I usually read in bed or in waiting rooms, hair dresser and so on… I read The Affair in one day, could not put it down. Luckily I was on annual leave! Loved it.
    Kind regards
    Danuta

    • Hi Danuta

      Thanks for getting in touch and I’m really pleased you enjoyed The Affair so much. I hope you didn’t have anything else planned for your day off!

      Amanda x

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