Why you chose that particular setting?
I like to write about places I know, and having grown up not for from the River Severn in Gloucestershire, it’s a landscape that has really imprinted itself on my soul. Knowing the places I wanted to write about meant not needing to do much research, which is nice sometimes. The Severn is an incredible river – muddy, tidal, with its huge estuary – it’s a totally unique habitat surrounded by beautiful hills. It has a lot of its own myths, and I managed to weave a few of these into ‘Hunting the Egret’.
What does the setting add to the story? Otter shapeshifters need water. My first otter shapeshifter novel was set in the fens – in the east of England, a very flat and damp part of the world. I wanted a different setting for this one, and needed water. I wanted egrets, and they are only in the south of the UK at present. Going back to the river I knew and loved as a child seemed a logical choice.
Could you write the same story in a different setting?
The plot itself doesn’t depend on the setting, I could have used a number of large southern rivers as my backdrop, but it made sense to use the one I know best.
Why or why couldn't you use a different setting?
Other rivers have myths and deities, but they all have their own character, so changing the setting would make some difference to the feel of the book.
Did you use a real place as a basis for your setting?
Yes, for the greater part – The Severn River, Bristol, Gloucester, Lydney, the Sharpness canal and the surrounding hills are entirely real. The village of Arlode is fictional, but owes a lot to the villages on the Severn.
Or, did you create the setting from scratch?
Only the village of Arlode, which is a typical small Gloucestershire village, with an aging population and its key facilities falling by the wayside.
Tell us some specific details about your setting. What would we see?
The Severn is a moody river, muddy, and tidal. On either side are hills. The combination of hills and river seems to make the place a rain magnate and its damper than average, with grey skies being very much normal. Although many of the villages are picturesque, there’s a smattering of industry, and communities suffering from rising house prices and dwindling populations. At the moment, there is no Severn barrage, but it remains a threat to this beautiful landscape.
What sort of people are there?
Villages are increasingly being taken over by weekenders and commuters – there being so little work in rural places. The younger people can’t afford the buy houses in the places where they grew up, and most leave for towns and cities. It’s hard to live in rural England if you have no car and no money.
If we were travelling to your setting, what should we bring with us?
Walking boots, a waterproof coat, binoculars for bird watching.
For visitors, what do they need to know to visit your setting?
It’s a fairly quiet and lovely corner of the world, with plenty of good pubs, and wonderful walks.
Thank you for sharing details about your book setting. Now, what's the title of your book and where can we buy it?
Hunting the Egret