Talking Location With author Annee Lawrence – Indonesia
Talking location with author Tracey Sinclair – London
29th October 2016
#talkinglocationwith…. author Tracey Sinclair, who immerses her readers in London.
It’s hard to be far from history in London. Even in its shiniest corners, the past is lurking – in the name of a street, the shape of a road, the ground beneath a building. So, when I decided to write a paranormal urban fantasy book, it seemed to make sense to set it in London. And, specifically, the part of London I was working in at the time, Smithfield.
For those unfamiliar with the area, Smithfield Market is both a fascinating historical site, and a prime example of London-in-flux. The market itself (which is officially called London Central Markets) is a wholesale meat market set in a splendid Grade II listed Victorian building, so is well worth a wander (they do official walking tours if you’re really curious, but you can easily get a decent sense of the place with a cursory wander by). But the site dates back hundreds of years – not only as a meat market, but also as a place of execution. There’s a plaque dedicated to the famous Scottish warrior William Wallace not far from it, as this is where he met his grisly end, and recent renovations for the Crossrail project unearthed a giant plague pit.
But Smithfield – like nearby Cheapside and Clerkenwell – is also a buzzing metropolitan area, home to offices, luxury apartments and bars and restaurants. (For carnivores with a culinary bent, the area is renowned as home to famously meaty restaurants such as Smiths of Smithfield and St John). St Paul’s is only a short walk away – and once you have taken in the breath-taking beauty of the cathedral, you can slake your thirst in one of the trendy bars in Paternoster Square or do a little shopping in One New Change, or even wander across the Millennium Bridge towards the Tate Modern and the Globe: there you’ll see another example of the contemporary and historical co-existing.
This all seemed a perfect setting for Dark Dates. The protagonist, Cass, is an utterly modern woman who, despite her best efforts, keeps getting caught up in the past. She owns her own business – a matchmaking service that sets up vampires and human donors, taking a new approach to an age-old problem – but she also deals with creatures more ancient than she can imagine. People who remember when traitors burned at Smithfield, or were tortured in St Paul’s, or the whole place perished under Iceni flames.
This duality allowed me to have a lot of fun with location, and bring in some of my favourite spaces in the city – for instance, the finale of Angel Falls is set in the walkways of Tower Bridge, and I also feature a theatre that is loosely based on the wonderful Wilton’s, the world’s oldest surviving music hall (which is now a thriving theatre and has one of the cosiest bars in London, so I would heartily recommend a visit if you’re in the area – it’s not far from the Tower of London, but feels nicely off the tourist trail!)
Much of the inspiration for the books simply came from wandering around the neighbourhood – a place where you can exit the shiny glass façade of Farringdon Station and, moments later, be in the beating historical heart of the City of London. It’s a wander I would recommend to anyone.
Tracey Sinclair is an author and freelance editor and writer. Her books include the romcom The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick series, the latest of which, Angel Falls, is out now.