Although I don’t always make settings explicit in my stories, I always have somewhere in mind – usually a place I’ve spent time in. I think this is one of the ways in which my druidry manifests in my writing – land matters to me. Every place has its own character, and that does affect my writing and the kinds of stories I tell.
Being back in Gloucestershire and seeing the landscapes I’d written from memory, is an odd sort of process. I suspect being here will mean I’m more likely to write about the Worcestershire landscape instead. The distance helps, I find. I can’t write what’s directly around me, it gets too personal and I become bogged down in the details.
Of my stories, the following have Gloucestershire settings – Hunting The Egret is set along the banks of the River Severn, and Dreams Come True is set in Gloucester. (I didn’t make that apparent in the book, but cover artist Dalia tuned in somehow, and picked a picture of Gloucester cathedral!) My cross dressing m/m tale Sweet Illusions owes a lot to time spent with a boyfriend on a farm in Coaley, a long time ago. Teacher’s Pet was based on another village round here, although I made a lot of stuff up for that one. There is no way, living in the area, that I’d feel comfortable about writing any of that now. Being at a distance also means not having to worry about what the neighbours think, and whether they fear I’ve written about them! That set of stories are all at www.loveyoudivine.com
The bigger peculiarity on this score is the comic. The imagery underpinning Hopeless is a mixture of Maine and the Cotswolds. Tom has drawn on personal experience for the Maine architecture and landscapes, but where he’s been looking for other elements, I’ve sent him images from the part of the world I grew up in. I’ve borrowed place names from here – both for places and character names. Frampton, and Arlingham Jones were both named after Gloucestershire villages. Tom hadn’t realised this and was amusingly startled when I suggested I might be going to Frampton (they have a folk club).
There are some odd parallels between the town I grew up in and the island of Hopeless – this is a foggy place too, and when the autumn mists roll in, they can turn the hills into islands. Where the lighthouse ought to be, there is a tower in memory of William Tyndale. Thanks to its geography, Dursley does have a feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world, and that affected my writing too. And now I’m back in the area. It feels just the teensiest little bit weird, seeing things I’ve borrowed, and having them be part of my reality again.
Where will I write about next? No idea, but it almost certainly won’t be from round here!