At the weekend I travelled to London to do some research for the current book I’m writing. This one is different because it’s not part of the Hannah Robbins series and it’s a standalone. From the first sentence of this blog post, you can also guess the setting is different, I’m moving to London. Specifically the suburb of Stoke Newington.
As I don’t know London well or Stoke Newington at all, I thought I had better get my arse into gear and go and investigate. It was a two-pronged attack. On the Sunday I met up with a great guy who held a lot of information that I need about one of my characters. We had lunch and chatted about the relevant subject as well as putting the world to rights, as you do.
Then Sunday evening I wandered over to Stoke Newington to make sure I can find my way, so as to not waste any hours on Monday and also to get a feel of it in the evening. It does have a different vibe in the evening, so I’m glad I went.
Then back in my hotel room I researched the specific places I needed to search out and I was ready to go.
Monday was great.
I had a wonderful saunter around Abney park cemetery. A neglected rambling looking cemetery that is a perfect location for one of my scenes. Though the fact that there is CCTV on the main road outside is something I’m going to have to think about…
It’s filled with headstones and caskets that are over 100 years old and lopsided as the ground beneath them has moved. The greenery around them has been allowed to run rampant over everything and it has a real derelict grounds feel and yet it is a gated cemetery with opening hours and people in there tending to it – I think.
On a side note fact, Amy Winehouse filmed the Back to Black music video in this cemetery.
It’s going to be interesting setting a novel in a place I don’t know well and I hope I can do it justice. Another visit will be on the cards. I found it to be an interesting place.
Stoke Newington Common had me a little perplexed. With the word common I was expecting a lush oasis in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of city life, but it was a mere scrap of grass in the middle of a main road, which had a fenced off train track running through the centre of it. A little disappointing. I’d hoped it would be a large place you could go for a romp with your dogs or a place with swings and slides for your kids. In the end, I was surprised it had a name at all.
I was sorry to miss the open market which runs on a Saturday, though. This is on the corner opposite the police station. I’ve seen a YouTube video of it as well as walking past the closed venue at the weekend and it looks to be the hustle and bustle beating heart of the community. I hope to make it down on a Saturday next time I go.
As I type this overlooking a field, the noise and clatter of Stoke Newington High Street, fruit and veg shops spilling out onto the street, quaint modern eateries and red London buses stamping their identity on the area, all seems so very distant now, but it has made its mark on me and I hope I can do it justice.
How important does the setting in a book feel to you when you read it?