When I started planning Family For Beginners, I knew I wanted a summery, uplifting setting.
Book settings have always been important to me – whether I’m writing or reading. It’s a way of travelling, or relaxing, from the comfort of my sofa, something that seems even more important since so many of us are currently staying home. It takes me several months to finish a novel, so I make sure I’m setting the book in a place I’m going to enjoy writing about. Whenever I’m able to, I do a research trip so that I’m able to really absorb the ‘feel’ of the area and it’s also a good opportunity to take photographs I can then share with readers on social media.
Family For Beginners is set in one of my favourite places, the Lake District. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy many family holidays there over the years, so when I was in the early stages of planning this book and pondering the best setting to support the story I had in mind, the Lakes seemed like the perfect choice. I knew that the beautiful scenic backdrop would provide plenty of opportunities to test my characters, as well as allowing me to enjoy the setting as I wrote the book.
Setting should always add something to a story. It not only creates mood and atmosphere but can also influence the way the characters act and the choices they make. My heroine Flora is afraid of water, so setting this story by a lake gives her an extra challenge and adds to the tension she is already feeling. The place she is staying is secluded – a beautiful house on a lake with gardens that stretch down to the water – bliss for some people, but tough for Flora who is thrown into continual close contact with people she is trying hard to impress.
So why do I love the Lake District so much? Apart from the fact that it’s filled with many happy family memories, I love the variety of the scenery and the opportunities it offers for exploring outdoors. Whether its scrambling up fells or sailing on one of the many expanses of water, there are so many ways to enjoy the spectacular landscape and every season brings its own charms. In Spring you might find yourself in woods thick with bluebells, and the changing colours of autumn add a different dimension to the scenery. I love the place in winter – those crisp, frosty mornings when the air is cold and the tops of the mountains are coated in snow. But nothing beats summer, with the sun sparkling on the surface on the lakes. Escape from the crowds, and you’ll discover a peace and tranquillity that is unmatched.
Of course, I’m not alone in loving the Lakes. It’s a booklover’s paradise. Arthur Ransome, Wordsworth, John Ruskin, Beatrice Potter – so many writers have been inspired by this picturesque corner of England.
I hope I’ve captured some of that magic in Family For Beginners, so that those who can’t be there in person can visit through the pages of my book. Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind the scenes photos and book chat.
In the meantime, happy reading and stay safe!
Love Sarah x