Location, Location Location
The Cat Connolly series Little Bones, In Deep Water and No Turning Back are set mainly in Ireland, but in Little Bones and No Turning Back we also visit London. Ireland is a fabulous location to set any book – it’s a very small country that has diverse landscapes, from Dublin city to the nearby Dublin and Wicklow mountains. Dublin is on the coast, it’s a huge port, and Dun Laoghaire and many of the locations in the books are around Dublin Bay where the sea is a constant influence. Dublin city has stunning Georgian buildings and wide streets, and a dark inner city where there is a constant problem with rival gang feuds.
I’m English, originally from St Albans in Hertfordshire, and I went to London University, to Queen Mary College in the heart of the East End of London. I’ve lived in Ireland slightly longer than I’ve lived in the UK, but I love setting books in places I’ve been. For me the sights and sounds of a location are vital to bring the story to life.
When I was writing Little Bones originally, I spent a day wandering around Bethnal Green and Whitechapel Market, locations that feature strongly. For In Deep Water I went up into the Dublin Mountains looking for the best place to dump a body – that story was influenced by the disappearance in 1993 of an American girl, Annie McCarrick, from a village close to where I live. She’s one of six women who have vanished in the mountains and her disappearance always resonated with me. In what has become known as the ‘Vanishing Triangle’, Annie’s case shared common characteristics with others – the women were all young and they disappeared inexplicably. In each case, no substantial clues or evidence of what happened to them has ever been found, despite large scale searches and campaigns by the Irish police force.
No Turning Back is set around Dalkey where my husband was stationed as a member of the Gardaí (Irish Police force) for many years, and brings the heroine, the feisty kickboxing Detective Cat Connolly back to London.
For me location can enrich a book hugely, I love to sit and absorb a place, to read the small ads in the local newsagents, to walk around and smell what my characters would smell. I hope the locations in the Cat Connolly series add to the stories for people not familiar with them, bringing an extra dimension to the books.