As with buying real estate, where the story takes place is important.? If I had set Christmas Cracker in Long Beach, nothing would have worked.? So I set it in Cumbria, Northern England.? Okay, so what did I know about Cumbria?? Not as much as I needed.? Time for a road trip around northwestern England.? Work, perhaps, but fun work.? Since I had a rough, rough draft of my book (then suffering from the title A Grievous Fault), I knew most? of the settings I needed.? Knowe Castle, for one.? But I needed to see some places that really existed and find buildings like those in the book.? Naworth Castle near Haltwhistle provided the inspiration for Knowe Castle, although Lord Langley doesn’t live there.?? His name came from Langley Castle Hotel, which is a beautiful place about 13 km from Haltwhistle.
Notice the stone wall along the road.? They are all over England.? Fortunately, I was quite familiar with narrow roads running between stone walls (also known as dry stone hedges) and driving on the left side of the road (no, not the wrong side, as some of my American friends have said) because I had lived on the Isle of Man for four years by then.? Nonetheless, you don’t do a lot of one-handed, high-speed driving on those roads.? The idea for Lord Langley’s rather elaborate stable came from Chesters Stud in Hexham, which is an independent business near the road rather than a private stable behind a castle.
Mighty fine housing for horses, if you ask me.? I also did some research about horse racing, since a champion race horse is involved in the story.? No, unlike Silver Blaze, he did not kill anyone.? Hopefully, that’s not a spoiler.? My next post will talk about my night in a Haltwhistle pub, learning about British horse racing.? Same Bat blog, same Bat website.