I’m so excited to be welcoming the brilliant Chrissie Bradshaw to the blog today! She’s got a fabulous guest post about the where and when of a novel!
The Where and When of a Novel by Chrissie Bradshaw
How important is the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of a novel? Every novel has to be set somewhere and, as a reader, I want to be drawn into that world so I escape into the time and place where the characters live. The setting doesn’t just make my reader experience more enjoyable, it accounts for attitudes and values of the times and the characters’ reactions to the situations they are in.
Having said that, I do like the author to know the setting well. Don’t you find that nothing jars and takes you out of a story more than something that couldn’t happen in that time or place? With that in mind, I find it a big responsibility to set my novels somewhere the reader can imagine and to make sure I make that place as real as I can create it.
My contemporary novels could take place anywhere in the UK but their northern setting gives the novels added flavour and the year grounds them into the modern world. ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ and ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’ are set in Dunleith, a fictional Northumbrian village. In both books, the setting is not all about Dunleith village because my characters travel for work and holidays.
In ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’, Cleo and Alex live in an inner city apartment while their mother travels around Egypt but the family home is in Dunleith. An old flame returns from Australia to set Cleo’s heart racing. Will he stay?
‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’ sees Erin returning from a stage career in London to care for her mother while her sister, Heather works as a journalist in Newcastle. In this novel a handsome Texan who is refurbishing a local stately home bumps into Erin and changes the course of her life. Do her buried dreams see daylight?
I love stand alone novels that interlink in some way and I have discovered that the village setting is perfect for this. The characters of Dunleith weave in and out of both novels and, one day, I’m sure there will be another novel set here. I have my detailed map of Dunleith showing where the characters live tucked away until that day.
My latest novels are different because they are historical. ‘Rose’s Choice’ is a family saga is set in a mining village during World War 2. This plot could only happen in this time and place and I’ve enjoyed the research needed to make it authentic. I’m a miner’s daughter from a Northumbrian village so the background is familiar but I’m not WW2 era!
Luckily, I have had many first hand accounts of mining during the war to go on as well as research from secondary sources so I hope the reader is transported straight into life in the colliery rows. Rose’s story unfolds against the backdrop of a mining village in war time with its battle against pit dust and disease as well as enduring air raids and rationing. In ‘Rose’s Choice’, a family tragedy pulls Rose back to a life in the rows. Do family ties get in the way of her dreams?
There is a sequel because Rose’s story continues in ‘Rose’s Ever After’ which will be published this Spring. It has been a joy to continue Rose’s journey and revisit Linwood Colliery with its now familiar characters. The research was different and resources plentiful because this novel takes us through life in the fifties and sixties after the war. Oh how society changed! Through Rose’s life, we see how this impacted upon life in the colliery rows.
My characters talk to me and, as I wrote the first book in the Linwood Colliery series, through the eyes of Rose Kelly, other characters wanted to have their say about the winter of 1944. They begged for a Christmas novella to be written so more of them could tell their side of living through an epidemic during the war. ‘The Unwelcome Angel’ set during the eventful winter of 1944 is a spin off that introduces more families and a nurse from the isolation hospital. Diphtheria, known as the strangling angel in the rows, swoops down on Linwood, can all the families survive the angel’s visit?
I just wanted to write stories but, as you can see, my use of northern settings means I’ve developed into an author of historical and contemporary fiction who sets her novels in Northumberland. I was delighted with a review that said my stories were like Catherine Cookson with a modern vibe. Who would argue with that compliment?
I say I write compelling family stories set in the past and the present that promise drama, romance and an uplifting ending and’ I just happen to set them in Northumberland.
Rose’s Choice – Rationing, bombing, disease and pit disasters are part of Rose Kelly’s World War 2 childhood. When the spirited coalminer’s daughter discovers a family secret, she makes a choice that overshadows her teenage years. Rose tries to make the most of post-war opportunities but family tragedy pulls her back to a life in the colliery rows. She relinquishes her bright future for domestic duties because her family comes first. Will family ties get in the way of her dreams? Rose’s Ever After – coming out soon Return to the colliery rows to meet Rose and the Kelly family again, including Joy. There are tears and triumphs in this moving saga of love and belonging.
Chrissie, 2016 winner of the Romantic Novelist’s Association Elizabeth Goudge writing trophy, is a seasoned tea drinker who writes contemporary and historical family sagas.
Chrissie has always loved match-making a book to a reader. Writing the kind of book she loves to read takes this a step further. When Chrissie is not writing or reading, you will find her walking her dog on the beach, travelling or spending time with her family and friends. She would love to hear from readers.
Chrissie enjoys tweeting on @ChrissieBeee
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Thank you so much for your post, Chrissie! What an interesting read.
If you’d like to guest post on the blog then contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!