Having met lovely Rebecca Bradley I’m delighted to have her on Linda’s Book Bag today. Rebecca’s latest novel Made to Be Broken is just released and is the second in her Hannah Robbins crime series after Shallow Waters. Rebecca Bradley’s books are available for purchase here.
Having met my husband at Nottingham university as we did our PGCEs, and knowing Rebecca’s books are set in that city I just had to ask her to write about the setting of her novels and luckily she agreed to do so.
Made to Be Broken
A rising death toll. A city in panic.
A young mother is found dead in her home with no obvious cause of death. As DI Hannah Robbins and her team investigate, it soon becomes clear that the woman is the first in a long line of murders by poison.
With the body count climbing, and the city of Nottingham in social meltdown, the team finds themselves in a deadly race against a serial killer determined to prove a point.
And Hannah finds herself targeting an individual with whom she has more in common than she could possibly know.
A Sense of Place
A Guest Post from Rebecca Bradley
Firstly, can I thank Linda for hosting me on her blog today. This is the start of the third week of my #MadeToBeBroken blog tour and the generosity shown to me by the blogging community has been immeasurable. They have opened up their blogs and welcomed me with open arms. When I asked if there were any bloggers who would mind hosting me on their blogs Linda was quick to volunteer and I am truly grateful. Thank you, so much, Linda.
(You’re very welcome to the blog Rebecca.)
Linda asked me to talk about the setting in my novels. Made to be Broken is the second in a series, which is based in Nottingham. The first being Shallow Waters. She wondered on the importance of place in this series and how fiction matches the reality.
I decided to base my protagonist, DI Hannah Robbins and her team in a Nottingham department, one, because we have plenty of novels set in London, and two, I don’t know London very well! So, why Nottingham? I do know Nottingham and it’s actually great city to set a crime novel in. It’s a wonderfully diverse city which gives me plenty of scope to play with whatever storyline I need to.
First, let me explain, with the first question Linda asked about, which was the importance of place in novels, and specifically to mine? I’ll be honest in answering this question and tell you that Shallow Waters was the first novel that I had ever written, there was nothing before it, there’s nothing in a drawer, so in reality it was my practice novel as well as being my debut novel. And what this means is that when I started I didn’t really know a lot about writing, particularly about writing novels. So, I wrote Shallow Waters without a real sense of place so that the reader could imagine it as any city wherever they were. I received some brilliant advice from an editor right at the beginning of my writing “career” who told me that sense of place was integral to a crime novel. When it comes to learning on the job, I’m like a sponge, taking every little bit of advice given and using it to my advantage, and sense of place was no exception. Nottingham breathed life into Shallow Waters and made it a whole new novel. It made the story feel real, allowing me to see just how important setting is. So now Nottingham as the setting is a very important feature of the novel because I can see it for what it is, how it brings life to the story, a place for your characters to just be.
The diversity that Nottingham offers gives me the ability to choose whatever type of crime or story I want to be able to tell, because there will be an area, a community, a history, or backdrop that will fit perfectly with it. Nottingham city is a cultural place, it has an active arts scene, festivals covering all interests, museums, a thriving nightlife due to the University and an active LGBT culture. As for locations, you have the city centre which boasts some beautiful architecture, a castle, an actual castle, well the ruins of a castle with large enough sections still visible for you to be able to see what it would have looked like with an art gallery and museum standing in the grounds, caves which run under the city, as well as some wonderfully rundown in need of financial input areas which are perfect for certain scenes in crime fiction.
Further out from the city you have other communities to play with. One such community provided the city the title Shottingham for a period of time, due to the level of gun crime, several years ago, though it is now recovered from this ill-fated name. you will also find more rural areas if the story is in need of a quieter place. What more can you ask for from a setting?
The fiction completely matches the reality of the city. Because of the beginnings of setting in the Hannah Robbins series, I find it important to be factually correct and have had great feedback from readers who know the area and enjoy the book when they recognise areas mentioned. The only time I make small changes is if I mention a specific address, I will make a street number up that doesn’t exist. After all, I wouldn’t want a reader knocking on someone’s door asking to look around the house that existed in a novel would I?!
I do know the area but Nottingham and its surrounding areas is quite large so I do still have to research some of it. The areas I know, I remember, but I also have some photographs that I’ve taken and can reflect back on just to get a feel of where I’m trying to place my characters. These photographs have a section of their own on my blog so people can look at them if they want to.
I’d be interested to know how much readers enjoy the setting in a novel or if they barely notice it? If so, where is your current favourite setting?
About Rebecca Bradley
Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective who lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and her two cockapoos Alfie and Lola. They always keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.