While Raised In Evil, my supernatural horror novel, is undeniably fiction, I chose to set it in and around where I live and/or places I know well. While I took certain literary liberties with those locations they are, I hope, recognisable to those of you who know them and at the very least believable to those of you who don’t. This blog is a very brief introduction to the reality of some of those settings.
The book opens with the discovery of a body on Thurstaston Hill so let’s start there.
I’ve known Thurstaston Hill from my childhood right through to present day. Its sandstone pathways and clear views across the Dee to North Wales make it a popular walking destination. Those of you who have read Weaveworld by Clive Barker may remember it featuring early on in that book too. Another nearby feature (strictly speaking on Thurstaston Common, but we always considered it part of the hill) is Thor’s Rock – although not mentioned in Raised In Evil it does have a key scene played out around and on it in my soon-to-be-published novella Reanimated.
Detective Inspector Frank Giles, the main investigator in Raised In Evil, works out of Heswall Police Station, not far from Thurstaston Hill.
Personally I have never been further than the reception desk inside the police station (where I once had to produce my driving license because of a broken headlight) and, unfortunately, these days it is only open at restricted times like so many other small town and village police stations. However, in my imagination it is a hive of detecting activity.
Frank also spends some time in Gerrard’s cafe in Heswall. Don’t go looking for it, you won’t find it. It did exist when I originally wrote those scenes but has since, unfortunately, closed.
Moving away from Heswall, the small village of Wharton Green, where Raymond Shaw’s office is located, does not exist but those familiar with the area might notice some similarities to the village of Port Sunlight on the Wirral. I did, indeed, work at a computer company based in Port Sunlight for six years and, although I primarily did training, I also helped the programmers out occasionally. As for the female tech Amanda Johnson, yes she is based on a real person, but everything else is pure fantasy.
By the way, the computer company no longer exists so there’s no point going and looking for it!
Another body is discovered floating in West Kirby Marine Lake. Recent storm surges aside, it is a pleasant place to walk around, particularly on a summer’s evening. To the best of my knowledge, bodies do not have a habit of appearing in its waters, except when they fall off their wind surfers… and they’re not dead!
The area of Caldy certainly exists, although the particular house used in the story does not. There are, however, plenty of large houses around there and I can’t possibly comment on what may go on inside.
Although St Andrew’s Church and the Derbyshire Village of Margerly also do not exist outside my imagination, the foggy drive undertaken by Frank Giles is based on a similarly foggy drive I had to undertake to the Toyota offices just outside Derby. I remember it as a particularly unpleasant drive on roads I was completely unfamiliar with. I also remember it because the clutch cable snapped on the drive back and I had to be rescued from a garage I managed to limp the car to, abandoning the car to be picked up the next day.
Locations in North Wales, such as Flint Mountain and Rhyl, exist but their details in the book are derived from equal memory and imagination.
Many of my stories make use of places I know, but none have used them quite so extensively as Raised In Evil. Setting the horror in locations so familiar to me made it all the more real as I was writing it and I hope that comes across in the finished story, making it vivid and real for the reader too.
If you live on the Wirral or are just passing through one day, by all means see if you can spot a few familiar places and enjoy the view… just try not to think of the horror that took place there…
Find out more about Raised In Evil, including where to buy it, by clicking here