Someone asked me recently why I set Golden Threads in England. My immediate answer was that it seemed like a good choice at the time. There’s more to it, though. I’m American and, although I have been to England and Scotland, why wouldn’t I set my novel somewhere more familiar? Wouldn’t it make sense to set it somewhere I’ve lived?
That’s a great question. Even better, since I’m making up all kinds of things about magic and aliens, why not simply set it on another planet, or make up a country? I had to think about my answer for a good long while. Authors do often set novels in imagined cities/countries, etc. It can make everything a lot easier. You don’t have to get the details correct; in a made-up land the writer’s details are by definition correct. And authors also set novels in places they’ve only visited, or even ones they haven’t. If you don’t know a place very well, then you might have to do a lot of research to get it right. I can’t afford to fly over to England and tool around, but I’m arrogant to believe I can use the internet and google earth to envision enough of the area to write a novel which isn’t terribly place-specific. Anyway, we’re not going to stay in northern England for long.
However, all of this begs the question: why even start there? I had a couple of criteria for my setting. One, it needed to be somewhere witches probably were burned at the stake about 500 years ago. Five hundred years ago, Columbus had barely sailed the ocean blue, and I doubt the people in what became the US were burning witches. It just isn’t consistent with what little is known about their culture. Two, I wanted the cave, so I needed an area where caves would reasonably exist. Three, I didn’t want to deal with a bunch of foreign phrases, and that seems obligatory when setting something in non-English speaking areas. I suspect that I had some subconscious reasons for choosing this land – the crazy mix of people from all over the world that I saw in my travels, for example.
These incredibly gorgeous photographs by Darby Sawchuck show exactly why one can imagine someone hiding out in a cave in a hillside in northern England.
Anyway, here we are, inside a cave in Northumberland. I hope you’re ready for the next installment. Chapter 9: Rest Stops
- Testament of a Witch by Douglas Watt (fictionfanblog.wordpress.com)