Friday, 8 November 2013

Gorgeous Places

People often ask how I get ideas for stories. I addressed this in an earlier blog but I'd like to focus on one really important source of inspiration: gorgeous places. Take a look at this picture:
This is Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria. With its quaint streets, winding river, pale stone buildings, market place and wide selection of local shops it's one of the loveliest places I've visited. Every year there's a Victorian Fair held in September when the whole town is transformed and everyone steps back over a hundred years in time. 
You'll notice one of the streets is called Salt Pie Lane. The story goes that there was a bakery there and the enterprising baker had an arrangement with the landlord of the nearby pub. The baker put a lot of extra salt in the mutton pies so after eating them, customers would need to drink a great deal of beer to quench their thirst!
Here's a picture of the Market Square and the traditional Morris Dancers.

I've visited the town several times now and was inspired to start a new book I've entitled A Proper Lady. It's the story of young farm girl, Bonita Salt, who lives in Kirkby Lonsdale during the late 1890's. When she loses her parents she's taken under the wing of the mysterious and charismatic Miss Violetta de Vere who transforms her from a plump and slovenly farmer's daughter into a slender, polished young woman. Miss de Vere plans to employ the same techniques on the plain and frumpy daughters of wealthy parents in order to make them more "marriageable". She enlists Bonita in her enterprise and they move to the lovely seaside town of Whitby to get things going. Soon, however, Bonita realizes that there's a lot more to this business than meets the eye and that Miss Violetta's intentions may be less than honourable.
Here are some of the places that inspired early scenes in the book:

The grave of Bonita's parents and the place she meets Reverend Jeremy Castleford.
Ruskin's view where Bonita learns a lesson about true beauty.