Location is an important feature of any novel – a wider landscape, an individual place. Throughout May, the Prime Writers will be sharing some of the wonderful locations that have inspired, and featured in, our novels. Come with us on our creative journey! We begin with Louise Beech, who tells us about an atmospheric house, The Cliff in East Yorkshire:
When I wrote my second book, The Mountain in my Shoe, I wanted the place where main character Bernadette lived to reflect her solitude and the difficult choices she had to make.
The Cliff on Hessle foreshore in East Yorkshire was a huge house that had been home to a sailor and artist in the 1800s. In the late 1970s the now rundown property, surrounded by overgrown trees, was renovated into council flats for temporarily homeless families. My mother was given one after her divorce. At first my three siblings and I were enchanted by being right on the river, with large grounds and woods to explore, and huge stairways and vast high-ceilinged rooms to create adventures in. But winter was cruel there.
At night it was so cold we wore our clothes in bed, while nearby the mournful foghorn wailed in the blackness and the wind in the trees sounded like wolves. I was sure the place was haunted. My mother was depressed but did her best for us; the roof leaked and there was no central heating, but she lit a fire every morning in the main room. We left in the spring, and it was demolished soon after, but I can still smell the damp, taste cod liver oil in porridge, and hear my siblings’ laughter as we ran along the foreshore.
In The Mountain in my Shoe Bernadette lives with her domineering husband Richard in a house inspired by The Cliff. While she struggles to leave Richard, she loves and hates the place, feeling trapped by the isolation but somehow at one with trees and wild beauty. It is a little boy who finally gives her the courage to escape.
The Mountain in my Shoe is released on Kindle 15th July, and in paperback in September.