This month, for the behind the scenes week we're challenged to write about setting:
Where is your book set and why did you choose that place? How do the temperature, terrain and other factors inform the story? What would change if your book were set somewhere else? How is this setting different from ones in your past books?
In keeping with my excerpt from two weeks ago, I want to talk about the setting of 'The Woman Who Hatched a Fairy's Egg' from my short story collection A Series of Ordinary Adventures.
I set the story in and around Hebden Bridge, partly because it's in a beautiful part of the world, with plenty of wild places where fairies just might be found, and partly because it has a very particular character all of its own. The town is home to a large lesbian population (almost certainly more lesbians per population count than anywhere else in the UK outside of cities like London and Manchester), along with artists, artisans and quite a few descendants of the original inhabitants, who either work in the tourist trade or scratch out a living at their ancestral trades. In fact Hebden's history as a former wool town had quite a big influence on the story in that Cynthia, my protagonist, weaves for relaxation, as an artistic outlet, and as a way to supplement the income that comes from investments made in her former life.
Hebden is a place where a purple-haired transwoman isn't going to feel out of place, and yet can get away from the crowds of London. However, it's also hilly, which puts physical obstacles in her way, at least until she buys a car, and as a former city dweller, she needs help from the locals when it comes to buying equipment to incubate her egg and restore the old house she has inherited.
I've set stories in Yorkshire before: most of my stories are set in England, and others are set elsewhere in the UK, but it's a big county and so Hebden isn't the same as say Sheffield. The setting is influenced by the people, and by the local materials available to be build from as well as the difficulties in building on steep slopes. The people up there are hardy, and friendly, which influences how they react to and interact with Cynthia, and even the incomers absorb those features once they've been around for a while. Yes, Hebden is multicultural, as are most rural parts of the UK, no matter what some TV producers would have you think.
And having written all that, I'm more keen than ever to go back up to Hebden and visit my friends who live there again.
To see what other people have been posting this week, go to the list here and follow the links to all the posts.