I love featuring authors I’ve actually met so it gives me great pleasure to be part of Cheryl Rees-Price’s blog hop for Frozen Minds as I met lovely Cheryl at a recent book event. Cheryl’s second book in her The Winter Meadows series, Frozen Minds, was published by Accent Press on 14th October 2016 and is available for purchase in e-book here.
To celebrate Frozen Minds, Cheryl has provided a smashing guest post all about the challenges of settings.
When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home’s residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man.
DI Winter Meadows knows there’s more to the case than meets the eye. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home – and some unscrupulous dealings going on between the staff.
Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents – or is there something even more sinister afoot?
Setting The Scene
A Guest Post by Cheryl Rees-Price
When I started writing The Winter Meadows series my first choice of setting was the village and surrounding area where I grew up and still live. It seemed to be a perfect location, I knew the area well, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to hide a body, and no C.C.T.V. Added to that there is also the abundance of secrets and gossip.
As I started to write it occurred to me how easily I could offend. I couldn’t just place a body on someone’s farmland, this could well cause suspicion especially if the farmer’s wife was off to visit her daughter in Australia. Then what of the antagonist? Imagine if the character was the local vicar, school teacher or shop keeper, I could be responsible for all manner of rumours!
To solve the problem I created a fictitious setting, based on the Valley. This gave me the scope to place buildings where I pleased and squeeze in an extra farm, or church. Anyone who lives locally can still identify the area and some readers have told me they enjoy working out where I am in the valley as they read.
The Setting for The Silent Quarry
So what makes remote locations a good setting for a murder mystery? For me the close knit communities found in small remote villages was appealing. People have a sense of belonging, many have grown up in the area and are from large families. There is also a sense of safety, if you are out late at night it’s likely you will run into someone you know out walking the dog. They will stop for a chat, comment on the weather and ask after your mother. This makes a murder in these locations so much more shocking. One of your own has been taken and one of your own could be responsible. It is a fact that murder is less common in small communities. If you look at the citizens report UK site, locations where there has been a violent crime are highlighted with a balloon. You can see the balloons clustered around the larger cities, very few in remote areas. When these crime do occur there is a huge impact on the community involved with many affected, someone is a relative, close friends, or neighbour of yours.
Most who live in these villages will confess to enjoying a good gossip. This exchange of information renders the local newspaper redundant. You can find out who is sick, who’s been having an affair and who’s dead all when going out to post a letter. The gossip goes around like Chinese whispers and there have been occasions when someone has been pronounced dead only to be seen walking the dog up the park two days later.
From a writer’s point of view gossip can either hinder or help the investigation. It is a great way of getting information across to the reader and can aid in setting a smoke screen.
I have tried to capture the spirit of the community in my books and encompass the shock, speculation, and fear that follows a violent crime. Fortunately for me the only crime to occur in my home village is that in my imagination.
About Cheryl Rees-Price
Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a Young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats. After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.
Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.
In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking, and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.