I’ve never previously taken part in an “open book” blog hop, although I always enjoy reading Stevie Turner’s weekly contribution. This week’s topic inspired me, however. It is:
‘Talk about the setting of your book. Is it entirely imaginary, or is it based on a real-life place?’
My most recent work, Called to Account, is a novelisation of real events in a real town in Ireland. Because the events took place 170 years ago and are well documented, I can be reasonably certain that no-one living in the town today will be offended. Funnily enough, one of the central facts is that when the events were publicised at the time, some citizens were offended. So much so that the resulting dispute ended up with a charge of slander, the trial of which I have used as the frame for the telling of the story. It also gives the novel its title.
Another book that is a novelisation of historical events is Strongbow’s Wife. This features a number of real places, but the events took place in the twelfth century so only keen students of medieval history would have the knowledge to challenge any of my descriptions. The story begins in County Wexford, Ireland, travels first from there to Bristol, then on across Southern England to Kent, across the channel to France, back to Bristol, Chepstow and Pembroke before returning to Wexford. Journeys to Waterford, Dublin, back to Pembroke and Chepstow and via Monmouth to Hereford follow over the course of the book. There are also excursions to London, specifically the Tower where Strongbow’s son and daughter were domiciled following his death.
Summer Day features the small district in rural Herefordshire where I grew up in the 1940s, although it is not named. Anyone living there would certainly recognise descriptions. The people are all fictional, although based to varying degrees on real people I knew then. Transgression is set in an entirely fictional English provincial town. I am currently working up a few more stories set in the same town.
I think fiction must feature settings that are taken from the author’s imagination, whereas historical fiction must, by its nature, be set in real places in order to lend authenticity.
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