But back to question three.
I write London-based books for a simple reason: I know the city, or at least parts of it. Some areas are as alien to me as the dark side of the moon, so I stick with what I know: the West End and Soho, vibrant and bursting with life lived across the spectrum, and Hampstead where high up on the Heath the view across London is unrivalled. For the Urban Love trilogy, however, we take a trip south, across the Thames to Vauxhall and Kennington, where my family comes from and where I grew up.
The Urban Love trilogy follows the complicated and sometimes downright fraught lives of a small and close-knit group of friends. When I started writing Loose Connection, the first book, I took a walk – and photos – to refresh my memory of the area where I wanted to set the main action in all three stories.
Every place of significance in the books exists. The real life version of the Georgian square where close friends Rick, and Archie and Zack live, is tucked behind a busy main road in Kennington. Okay, the place I refer to as The Square is a carbon-copy – not much artistic license there! I’m not going to name it, but this was where I spent lots of time as a young kid because it was where my dad’s family lived. It’s a lot more expensive but a lot less scruffy now! Jake, the fourth member of the group, lives around the corner in a flat-fronted Victorian terrace - not so swanky but certainly more Bohemian.
Which brings me to the garden.
Overgrown, unkempt, and full of artwork poking out from bushes or hidden in shadowy corners, the garden sits in the centre of a small network of streets. The garden, and the nearby café, are of particular significance for Zack as they witness both his growing realisation of the man he could be as well as his near-destruction.
I loved placing Rick, Archie and Zack, and Jake and their unfolding stories in areas I know well to invoke a sense of place. For me, as an author and reader, I like characters to be firmly rooted in their worlds – and what better world than one I know and love, and return to again and again?
Loose Connection - Rick's story
The Story of Love - Archie & Zack's story
Corporate Bodies - Jake's story