Shhh! It’s a Secret

I’m a very visual person with an overactive imagination (or so my mother constantly told me when I was young). I like to step into my character’s shoes, want my reader’s to feel their journey.

As writers, we painstakingly research our novels: probe the internet, read books, articles, interview others. But sometimes you need that firsthand experience to touch, smell, hear and see something for yourself. Which is what led me to a Sunday afternoon, family walk in search of deposition sites for a body…

An Unfamiliar Murder is set in the fictional town of Hampton, loosely based on my home in Northants, England. There is a scene in the book set on Bracken Way, based on the very real Brampton Valley Way, a disused railway line, given over to walkers and cyclists.

So, unbeknown to the families cycling past, couples picnicking at designated sites, the dog trudging at my side, my ten year old climbing every available tree – my husband and I ambled down the Brampton Valley Way, pausing to examine mine shafts, drains, even a disused pump house – discussing the advantages and disadvantages of storing a body and searching for secluded meeting places. I was able to touch the stone, listen to the birds in the trees, smell the air around, analyse the scenes; all valuable tools to be used in my descriptions later.

This proved to be a very lucrative afternoon of research which resulted in my coming home and writing a chapter of my novel. A chapter which included a very important scene – the scene that appears on the front of the book.

And here is where I share the secret – this is the tunnel entrance on the very real Brampton Valley Way.

And this is the front of my novel.

Having signed with an American publishing house, this photo for my cover art was taken in the great USA. I sent the photographer many images and descriptions of the real site and she did a wonderful job of emulating it with a similar site she found in the US. Can you notice any differences?

14 thoughts on “Shhh! It’s a Secret

  1. Well I hope in your research you never come across a true crime scene.

    Visiting sites will open the senses and imagination of an author. I visited a battlefield in Vicksburg, Mississippi where a four month siege by US Union forces took place over a confederate stronghold. Not only did the imagery spur my imagination, the unmarked tombstones touched my emotions of the real and senseless loss of human life.

    I am sure most author’s imagination are sparked whenever they visit a new place. Great post – I think I need another road trip.

    • Hey Edward! Thanks for stopping by. Glad you like the post – can’t beat the hands on approach, although I hope I never visit a true crime scene too. Wonderful story about your research. I do think it’s a lovely part of being a writer:)

  2. If we weren’t all full of stories, I suppose we wouldn’t be writers. Enjoyable post, Jane. It’s nice to read of the details that led to the final work.

    If anyone had happened upon the two of you out examining and openly discussing locations to store bodies, you might have had some explaining to do. 😉

  3. That’s brilliant. Research can be loads of fun too sometimes. Like Tommy said, I too was wondering as I read your blog, what people would have thought if they could hear you discussing the pros and cons of depositing a body there. Sounds like great fun! Great post Jane

    • Thanks B! It’s amazing the conversations you have when you don’t think people are listening. Imagine the police questions – what an interesting interview that would make, LOL!

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