Wednesday has rolled around again and this week I’m delighted to welcome my good friend and fellow Caffeine Nights author Graham Smith, who shares some fascinating facts about Cumbria. Thanks for taking part, Graham!
Book titles: I Know Your Secret and Matching the Evidence
Author: Graham Smith
Setting: The English county of Cumbria
Location Location Location…
Apologies for the somewhat cheesy headline, but for this guest post I thought I’d talk about the locations I’ve chosen for my DI Harry Evans novels, novellas and short stories.
I’ve set them in Cumbria which includes the fantastically beautiful Lake District, the Northern Pennines and hundreds of miles of coastline. Cumbria is home to the city of Carlisle, countless small towns and villages, a plethora of wide open spaces consisting of moorland, rolling fells, deep lakes and small forests. (Many of these are good places to dump a body which is always important for us crime writers.)
Stepping outside the City of Carlisle, the towns and villages are tourist traps, ports, market towns. Tourism is huge business in the Lake District, but Cumbria also plays home to a nuclear power station, a naval base and factories which produce everything from crisp packets to biscuits via tyres. Farming is a huge part of the community and there are many dairy, sheep and cattle farms throughout the region although the hills do mean there’s a distinct lack of arable farming in the area. (This diversity of location gives me the opportunity to write a rural or city based story without having to move my characters away from their usual stomping ground as the whole of Cumbria is their patch.)
The M6 motorway and countless A and B roads afford access around the county, but there’s also many single track roadways when you get off the beaten track. (For a crime writer these are great for allowing speedy progress or causing tension-inducing displays as required by the story.)
Cumbria has an amazing history which includes the Romans, the reiving families of the borders and the many wars between Scotland and England. All of this makes for a landscape which is rich in varied influences and ancient cultures. (West Cumbria had its own unique language which still shows in the speech patterns of those local to the area.)
Another governing factor in my choosing Cumbria and the Lake District as my location of choice is the fact it is an area which many readers from the north of England and Scotland are likely to have visited. Most readers like to read about places they know and as such it was something of a no-brainer for me to choose to write about and area I’m local to and fairly familiar with. (Don’t tell anyone, but one of the main reasons I chose Cumbria is so I can have a nice day out in the Lake District and call it research.)
A lesser but still important consideration was that very few people are setting crime stories in Cumbria. All the other cities close to me have already been claimed by those who know them far better than I.
With all these attributes available in a location so close to my home in Scotland (I live just three miles from Cumbria) I’d have had to have been very brave or foolish to choose anywhere else.
I might be a coward, but I’m not an idiot!
Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner, he has built bridges and houses, dug drains, and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.
An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009.
He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team.