Tumbledown in Pictures

smaller TDFrom the amount of shrieking being aimed in my general direction, I know that quite a few people have read Tumbledown by now. I wondered whether folk might be interested in some of the background research to the novel, so I put this handy pictorial guide together.

Also, if anyone wants to ask any questions about the book or leave feedback (good or bad) – pop your comments onto the end of this thread, and I will happily get back to you.

Bit of a warning: this post contains non-specific spoilers for the book, and gratuitous images of food porn.

~ ~ ~


I think my head just about exploded trying to make sense of this flow chart…

Tumbledown was a fabulous novel to write, but a bugger to try to get right. It took me about 12 months to finish it, and by the end of that year I had amassed a bizarre and eclectic Internet favourites folder that explained everything from What is Bail: Maine, to Preserving Impression Evidence on HowStuff Works (great site!), to what it’s like to spend time in a County Jail. (Orange is the New Black wasn’t even a twinkle in Netflix’s eye when I wrote this book!)

I learned the hard way not to write technical scenes whilst on a beach holiday with no Internet connection, because when you get home and check your facts out, it necessitates reworking the entire damn chapter. I also learned that the American justice system is nothing I ever want to become entangled in, that if I ever get a tattoo it certainly won’t be one of these, and that the state of Maine is somewhere that I would very much like to visit.

maine in autumnI’ve never been to Maine, and, although Avery and its sister towns are fictional, I relied on photographs such as this one to try to get descriptions of the landscape right.

And images like the one below gave me scenery tips for Caleb’s later road trip down the Eastern US coastline.

Portland Head Maine Fall 09 (5)

There’s nothing I enjoy more than researching regional food specialities. The unfortunate side effect of that is permanent hunger (and food envy!) whilst I’m trying to concentrate on the damn story.

Lobster roll!

Lobster roll, anyone?

jam roly polyWhile we’re on the subject of food, anyone who might be wondering what the hell Sarah’s talking about when she mentions making a “jam roly-poly” for the pot luck picnic – it’s a diet-busting pudding of sweetened suet pastry, wrapped around a load of jam, and then oven baked. Like most British puds, it’s best served warm with custard.

Recipe available here 🙂

holyoke warehouseThe city of Holyoke (pronounced whole-yolk, fact fans!) was chosen after a hop through Google searching for derelict warehouse districts in Massachusetts. The area around its three main canals is apparently undergoing regeneration, but images of foreboding, abandoned buildings made it perfect for my purposes. Even more perfect was the fire department’s tactic of marking unsafe buildings with an X, which gave me an ideal way of allowing the police in the novel to zero in on the right location.

This is the copy of Pride and Prejudice that Alex buys Sarah for her birthday. It would have set her back $260, which seems a small price to pay, all things considered…

pride and prejudice tumbledown

And last but not least: the Dark Peak, Derbyshire, in all its glory, complete with “feisty” sheep. I like to think of Alex and Sarah sitting under their blanket together, drinking a brew, and looking out on this view 🙂

peak with sheep

About Cari Hunter

Cari Hunter is the author of "Snowbound", "Desolation Point" and "Tumbledown", "Alias", "Breathe", and the Dark Peak series of crime thrillers - "No Good Reason", "Cold to the Touch", and "A Quiet Death" - all published by Bold Strokes Books. Her new novel "Unbreakable" is now available to buy.
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7 Responses to Tumbledown in Pictures

  1. Barbara G. says:

    Thanks for the background info, so cool. I’ve never been to Maine, but it sounded ‘realistic’ to me(I’m in the western U.S.).

    “Tumbledown” is great! Sweet, suspenseful … well balanced, your best, so far! Naturally I had to read it straight-through, I couldn’t leave them hanging, could I? For those sensitive and/or a bit anxious here’s some suggestions or tips: 1) read it in one sitting–it’s worth it and you don’t want to cause yourself too many sleep-less nights; 2) read it during daylight hours if possible (see 1);
    3) watch or read something funny afterwards (this is only for those truly affected and/or who may suffer from “anxiety-hang-overs” (yes, I’m one of those people); 4) If you MUST, and only if you’re REALLY worried, as a last resort … cheat …read a line or two at the end. {Be warn this doesn’t always work}! Look forward to your next Cari!

    • Cari Hunter says:

      Hey, those four tips are tips to live by, Barbara 🙂

      I think this one was easier than Desolation Point in terms of its setting because Avery and its surrounding towns were made up, so I had carte blanche to create them as I wanted them, which is a lovely and stress-free way to write! The technical bits (especially the legal proceedings) were a bloody nightmare though – and I’m still waiting for someone to tell me I got it all wrong. I did take a bit of creative license with the bail hearing. That was the scene I had to completely rework because I got home from my hols and discovered that you can’t get bail if you’re up for murder in Maine. I loved the way it eventually panned out – that Sarah and Alex both knew what was coming and were dealing with the inevitability in their own ways – but I was gutted at the time.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!

  2. Sunny says:

    Love these glimpses into how the book came to be. I loved the book too, but you already knew that. I’ve been to Maine once for an all-too-short visit and would love to go back. In my limited experience, the book settings were very realistic. Thanks for taking the time to do research – I wish more authors did that. It really does help provide authenticity and makes for a better read.

    Oh, and thanks for giving food such a prominent role. Mmmmm. I still want one of those mint cake thingies from your other books. 🙂

    • Cari Hunter says:

      I think I’m a bit of a research geek, Sunny! I actually enjoy doing the legwork (also: genuinely paranoid about buggering stuff up) and I don’t want to do a half-arsed job, especially when I’m a Brit writing about America. I’ve been to Boston, Auburn, and Cape Cod on the East Coast, but never Maine. The missus actually suggested Maine, so she’s to blame for all of my lobster roll cravings.

      Maybe in a few more years I’ll write a Cari Hunter cookbook and put a load of my book’s recipes together – custard tarts, sponge and custard, jam roly poly, Victoria sponge, mac ‘n’ cheese, hot pot… Book 4’s exactly the same, I just can’t help but write characters who love to eat! You’ll have to chuck me your address, I can certainly sort out your hankering for Kendal Mint Cake 🙂

  3. Debbie Roberts says:

    I just finished reading it and it was excellent. Kept me on the edge of my seat and heartbroken with real tears mind you streaming down my face at times. Loved it. Another winner!!!

    • Cari Hunter says:

      Aww, sorry I made you cry real tears, Debbie! But I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed the book. The damn thing made me bawl as well. Many thanks for dropping me a note 🙂

  4. Pingback: News roundup: Hild makes it to the UK, a new old book from LT Smith, food porn from Cari Hunter and music from RJ Samuel | UK Lesbian Fiction

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