Tag Archives: planning a novel

Virtual tour around Canbury Village ~ the second imaginary location for my latest novel

Canbury village featured a great deal in MISSING Past and Present, both in the ‘Present’ story of Dot, who wandered homeless around the lanes surrounding Canbury village, only two miles walk from Drumford town centre.

The walk from the town took Dot over the River Ree, through a spinney, past some allotments where Dot found a tumbledown shed open; a refuge on cooler nights. It was situated behind the school, an old fashioned Victorian building which had a main entrance out to the village green. It was here she went during her worst moments of despair to be surrounded by everyday life going on normally around her. Dot would wander long Canbury Lane, which ran through the village, and it was along the way that she discovered the solace of nature in a clearing where she slept out in the open on warm summer nights, staring up into the canopy of the three mature trees. Opposite was a tiny footpath and it was along here that she discovered the Grange, a haven where she tried to find herself once more.

Above is a rough map of Canbury in relation to Drumford.

The children of Canbury School had a great affection for Dot and called her ‘Lady Pink Hat’ and the little village shop looked out for her too, giving her food on their sell by date at the end of a day when they saw her pass by.

For Millie, in the ‘Past’ story, Canbury was her home as she trained to be a nun at the Grange, nearly two centuries before, but whereas for Dot it was a Godsend, for Millie it was more like a prison.

Did I find it difficult to write a novel in an imaginary place?

No, not at all. These places were as real in my head as Dot, Millie and the other characters who led my story forward.

Was it strange to link them to real places too?

Yet again no. I imagined Drumford as one of those communities affected by Beecham in the cut to the UK rail network; not deemed large enough to have its own station and yet a thriving and caring community nevertheless, much like many a market town in the UK. To get to Bedford there is a good bus service or of course the road.

MISSING Past and Present, is available at Waterstones or on Amazon.

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Filed under Author Diana Jackson, Book reading, Historical Fiction, MISSING Past and Present, Mystery inspired by history series, Planning a novel

Virtual Tour around the main settings for my latest novel ~ real and imaginary

MISSING Past and Present is unlike my previous novels because two of the main settings are imaginary. Why go to all that trouble?

  • It challenges the imagination of the writer and the reader
  • It will not offend a reader ~ in my murder mystery, set on my doorstep at the time in a village down in Bedfordshire, some folks loved it that way but others were a bit disturbed by it ~ well, it was murder after all!

Strangely enough this did not deter my ability to see the scenes as vividly as ever in my mind’s eye, maybe more so. I suppose writing fantasy is like that.

Tour 1 in the imaginary Town of Drumford

Here’s my sketch of the main town of Drumford in my novel, or at least the centre, where a lot of the action took place. It was the birth place of Dot, my protagonist, and the focus of a life of memories.

The main scenes were set in The Ark, a centre for the homeless, but there were also scenes in the community police station in the old bank building, in the cafe, in both churches and in the Women’s Refuge.

Belmont Park featured both in the past and the present; as a park to enjoy in today’s world it was a place of reflection, even secret assignations. The ruins of the old manor house, still visible among the gardens, brought to life its past for Millie, my trainee nun, nearly two hundred years before.

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Filed under MISSING Past and Present, Mystery inspired by history series, Planning a novel, Writing, Writing a novel

Light Bulb Moment of inspiration ~ Just a Sentence ~ then a Story Plan

HAVE A NOTEBOOK AT ALL TIMES

Do you have a notebook, or a plethora of notebooks to hand when inspiration for writing strikes?

Sound advice!

All it took was just a sentence popping unbidden into my mind:

‘While picking blackberries in the hedgerows one day, I found a dice.’

CHOOSE AN UNUSUAL PROTAGONIST

I had already decided to write about a homeless person but wanted to choose an unlikely character, This one sentence was the perfect lead to my protagonist, Dot. Picking blackberries is second nature to her and thus she would be a ‘jam making women’s institute sort of lady’, the sort who you might pass unnoticed in the street. If a lady like that who hadn’t done anyone any harm, well almost, became homeless, straightaway I felt that the reader would feel empathy towards Dot when her husband went missing.

BACK STORY

Then I began to think of her back story. Holding the dice which I had found one day it struck me to be a fantastic tool for Dot’s memories while she was trying to recover from the breakdown of all she had known. (Her memories were not personal ones to me by the way, except maybe one, but I’m not going to admit which one.)

 

 

SUBTITLE

No one deserves to have their life destroyed, but what sums up the overriding question in Dot’s mind as she tries to make sense of it all.  Life is never fair but

Is Life Just a Roll of a Dice?’

My subtitle came to life.

MISSING Past and Present on Amazon

SETTING

The scene of picking blackberries could be an idyllic one, but in Dot’s case it was a means for survival, to glean from the countryside. What was it like to survive when homeless.

MAIN THEMES

This led to the main themes in my novel, as explored in previous blogs, leading to further tension and miscommunication.

Homelessness, soup kitchens and food banks

Mixed race relationships

Multi faith marriage

Gender inequality

Prejudice, racism and acceptance

SUMMING UP

Thus, finding a dice in the hedgerows gave me a sentence.

Out of the sentence came the protagonist, back story and major setting.

This allowed me to develop my plan, including themes pertinent to my story.

What originally inspired you to write your latest novel?

If you would like to be a guest writer on this blog why don’t you take the Dice Challenge and get in touch with me diana@dianamaryjackson.co.uk

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Filed under MISSING Past and Present, Mystery inspired by history series, Planning a novel, Writing, Writing a novel