Seeing as I finally have a bit of space to breathe (first round of edits are back with my editor and I have almost two weeks off work!) I thought I would try and set the scene for Snowbound a little.
And by setting the scene, I really mean, setting the scenery…
Before I started working with the ambulance service, I’d never set foot in the Peak District, and before I met my lovely wife, I’d never really set my foot into a pair of walking boots. By happy coincidence, one of the stations in my group was nestled in a village right in the heart of the Peaks. It was a beautiful place to work, and having bought a few guide books and a big ol’ Ordanance Survey map, my partner (a Londoner by birth) and I set out to explore.
That was almost ten years ago. We’ve marched up a lot of hills since then, sunk up to our knees in a lot of bogs, clambered up the ancient stones, and defended our sandwiches from the sheep. We’ve been snowed on, hailed on, rained on, and watched storms blow in across the valleys. We’ve been wild swimming in baking heat. We got lost once on a path we’d walked countless times, when the fog came down so suddenly and so thickly that everything looked completely alien and familiar landmarks were swallowed up in an instant.
When it came to writing Snowbound, setting the novel in the Peak District was one of the easiest things to decide upon. Most of the novel takes place in a fictional village at the foot of Kinder Scout, the highest plateau in the Peak District. The walking routes up and along Kinder are not for the faint hearted – there are no sign posts, occasionally there are no actual paths, and more often than not they are water-logged and windswept. Having walked in Switzerland which is so much more civilised in its accommodation of hikers, the Peak District is like an unruly elder sibling; if you can’t read a map or use a compass and you aren’t prepared to get wet, stay at ground level! However, if you like your scenery with a hint of bleak and you manage to scramble up there, the rewards are usually well worth it:
Being quite cruel, I not only shoot one of my main characters but I then go and get her stranded in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of a snowstorm, in a barn a lot like this one:
Back when I started to write Snowbound, I wondered if the extreme weather conditions I was describing were a little too exagerrated. England did get snow but not to the extent that it caused too many problems. That was back then. The last two years have seen more snowfall than I remember in my lifetime, causing all the chaos you would expect in a tiny country that is more accustomed to rain and moderate temperatures. I almost wonder if I brought it on myself! But then, it’s so beautiful when it happens that it’s hard to complain…
** May actually be an urban myth. But forewarned is forearmed… 🙂