Yesterday on twitter someone reading Dark Resurrection asked me why so much of my fiction is set on the Isle of Wight. She referred specifically to Ventnor. I answered saying that if I’m going to have to describe somewhere, it might as well be somewhere I like. That’s the truth, but not the whole truth. I’m very comfortable at the Spyglass Inn, both in my fiction and from time to time in actuality. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
This is a picture of Brook Hill House, which is located in Brightstone Forest and which I first laid eyes on from a good distance away in 1994, the year the building was Grade 2 listed. I was cycling on the island with my brother at the time. A decade later it became the inspiration for the Fischer House in The House of Lost Souls. I chose Wight for much of the period action in THOLS because in 1927, when that part of the novel is set, the island was remote enough for a decadent metropolitan clique to get up to mischief there in quite plausible seclusion.
More recently, I thought the island a good fit for Ruthie Gillespie, a character I intend to write about more in the future. When she first appeared in my novella The Going and the Rise, I just couldn’t imagine her living anywhere else other than Ventnor. She doesn’t mind a visit to the mainland – and in a story yet to be published quite happily visits London – but she’s an island woman at heart.
Location is really important to me. It helps with atmosphere, which is a crucial consideration in my fiction. I’ve set a lot of stuff in North Lambeth, where I used to live. Whitstable has featured, where I lived as a student an eternity ago. Shaftesbury figures in Dark Resurrection having earned its place because The Colony was written there. One thing I never thought I’d do was write about my home town until I went and did it in Dark Echo. Southport also features in the forthcoming Colony trilogy finale Harvest of Scorn. Plenty of memories and no real research required. And Ruthie likes Southport. She’s partial to a pier, and Ventnor doesn’t have one of those.
Those of you who like your fiction laced with a little dread need not fret about these sometimes picturesque locations. The sun can descend very quickly in my stories leaving only a stumbling darkness behind. And much of Harvest is set in the Outer Hebrides, on New Hope Island, which is is only ever superficially charming and never, ever safe.
Anyway here’s the paperback of the second Colony trilogy novel, out now just as the final revisions to volume #3 are being done. The shortened buying link is amzn.to/2bbLaFX which I hope you don’t mind me mentioning as I’m not exactly into the hard-sell generally and some of you might find useful.
The convenience is fantastic, but I appreciate digital reading isn’t for everyone. And there’s something about a physical book that makes an author proud (this author, anyway).
Why would an author write a sequel to a novel neatly wrapped-up not just with an emphatic conclusion, but with an epilogue to take care of any irritating loose-ends? Does the sequel mean that the original novel didn’t tell the story it should have and was somehow incomplete?
With The Colony, it was a bit more complicated than that. The novel was emphatically my best-selling digital title, which made its flaws all the more irritating to me. And I was very thankful earlier this year when I was given the opportunity to right (or perhaps write) what was wrong with it. The revised version is worthy of its premise, which modesty aside, I think a good one.
The two sequels making up the Colony trilogy are original, stand-alone tales nourished by the mythology of my fictional New Hope Island. I didn’t want to repeat myself (which would have been as boring for me as for you); I just felt that New Hope and its dark history and the dubious characters linked with that blighted locale had much more to offer. I felt compelled to go back to that unwelcoming granite rock in its wilderness of cold Atlantic water. And quite naturally, I wanted my readers to come along and enjoy the outing with me. What’s wrong with that?
It’s a rhetorical question, but of course there are things profoundly wrong with New Hope Island, as those of you who’ve read The Colony will know. If it whetted your appetite for more, here it is.
This is out now and the third installment in the trilogy (already written) will follow early in 2016. It remains only to say something seasonal, so I will. I wish every one of you a healthy, happy, peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year.