I’m always interested in other people’s writing processes, so I thought I’d write a post on how inspirational places have affected my novels, in the hope that you’ll then share some of yours!
Whenever I write, I’m inspired by my surroundings, and that’s why seascapes and rural West Cork have become so important in my fantasy trilogy; I live on the Atlantic coast in Ireland, where there are farms and fishing and no escaping the weather! It’s very a wonderful part of the world, and holds a special place in my heart, so it’ll come as no surprise to know that The Book of Shadows – Nine Lives Trilogy 2 (published last week) has many places near where I live embedded into the story.
The sea is an obvious influence as I love being out on the water and spend as much time on it, or near it, as I can. We have a small punt that we use to fish for mackerel and pollock, and we spend a lot of time bobbing on the waves trying to catch dinner. The best bit is, we see lots of other creatures too! We get to observe basking sharks regularly, and this was the inspiration behind Cedric, the shark submarine, who first appeared in The Book of Learning – Nine Lives Trilogy 1. In The Book of Shadows, there is a battle scene in the sky, and the gannets we see diving for mackerel were a big influence on this scene.
Gun Point and Roaring Water Bay are actual places near where I live – but I moved them a little, geographically, to suit the seascape I needed for my story. Gallows Island is a mixture of Cape Clear and Long Island – both are islands that I can see from my home and that I visit regularly – and the reason I fused the two is because I needed caves and cliffs and the rocky shoreline. Both islands had some of the necessary elements I needed, but not all, so I muddled them up! I also wanted a more sinister name, to reflect an island where kidnappings might take place and demons might dwell, so I invented that.
I also made up the village name and geography of Oddley Cove, but later found out that there’s an Audley Cove nearby which is very similar! West Cork has a unique feeling to it, and as the villages are really small, I didn’t want anyone to feel left out, and so once again. I fused a few places around me to create my setting. I wanted woods that were high up (Lough Hyne & Glengariff), a rocky coastline (Schull and Mizen Head), and a fishing/farming landscape where people were welcoming (all of West Cork!). I took the elements that I needed from some of my favourite spots, mashed them up, and created Ebony Smart’s home.
History also plays a part in The Book of Shadows, as West Cork is famous for its pirate activity in the 17th and 18th centuries. Such a fascinating era, I can’t help delving into its stories and as a result, I came up with some new characters! The Shadow Walkers are unusual, black-hearted pirates made of darkness and shadows, and the idea for these creatures came after reading about the real-life ‘Barbary raids’ of 1631. Although my characters are nothing to do with the kidnapping of the inhabitants of Baltimore, the feelings that the historical tale left me with led to their formulation. The Shadow Walkers were fun to write, as they represent the darker side of the human psyche, and I always really enjoy writing about baddies!
Dublin is also central to my Nine Lives Trilogy – I do love stories with dual settings! – but that’s for a future post. In the meantime, I’d love to know where some of your story ideas come from and how the landscape influences you!