The Witches of Castle Clair
The main setting for the Witches of Castle Clair is very much based on a fictionalised version of Knaresborough. There was absolutely no need for me to look elsewhere when planning these books. Knaresborough had it all! The ruined castle with its ravens, the legend of Old Mother Shipton, the shrine carved into the cliff, the river with its picturesque waterside walk, market place, the oldest chemist shop in England, cobbled streets, beautiful buildings…
Having been on holiday to Looe in Cornwall many times, I really wanted it to be the setting for Gerrenporth. Not only was it the perfect town for the story, but it had its own island sitting off the coast! Just what I needed. Looe Island, which is also known as St George’s Island, is roughly 22 acres, and at low tide you can just about walk over to it, but access is strictly by permission only as its now owned and managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, and preservation of the wildlife is priority. But luckily we have drone footage and visitor videos available – so even though I’ve never actually been to the island in person, I’ve had a good look around it via YouTube. I’ve also read the book, We Bought An Island, by Evelyn Atkins – one of the two sisters who previously owned it. When Evelyn died, her younger sister, Babs, was offered a small fortune to turn it into a theme park, but refused and, instead, bequeathed it to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
Gerrenporth was very much based on Looe. I’ve visited there several times over the years, and I call it My Happy Place, as whenever I see the harbour for the first time my heart lifts, and I feel as if I’m coming home. It really is a stunningly beautiful town on the south coast of Cornwall. I had a bit of a spooky experience there myself, which inspired a scene in Will of the Witch. As I was sitting on a bench looking across the harbour towards the main part of the town, I saw a handsome man standing on the harbour steps, leaning against the wall. He was dressed in casual clothes – jeans, what looked like a fisherman’s jersey, and a sea captain’s hat. I was just thinking how lovely he looked (with apologies to the husband) when a seagull flapped at me and distracted me for a second. When I looked back the man had vanished! I had a clear view of the surrounding area but he was nowhere to be seen. I thought, well, you’re going straight into the book. And he did!
Ever since I came up with the idea of Ballydraiocht in Ireland as a place for my witches to visit, I intended it to be set in County Sligo in the province of Connacht. I have never been there, although it’s my ambition to visit one day. I always knew my dad’s family came from Ireland, but it was only a few years ago, researching my family history, that I finally discovered they came from County Sligo. Where else would I set Ballydraiocht? Especially when I learned that the Tuatha De Danann are reputed to have arrived in Ireland in the province of Connacht. It looks beautiful to me, and I’d love to go there and find out more about my ancestors, visit places like Carrowmore, and take in all the stunning scenery.
Glastonbury was always going to feature somewhere in my books. I love this place, which has fascinated me ever since the moment I saw a postcard of Glastonbury Tor and had to ask my friend where it was, and, just as importantly, what it was. From then on I wanted to go there, and a few years ago I finally achieved my dream. I couldn’t believe it when I got out of the car and stepped onto Glastonbury soil for the first time ever. Well, it was a Glastonbury car park to be strictly accurate, but even so. It did not disappoint me! What a magical town this is, with its fabulous and quirky shops, great places to eat, magnificent abbey ruins, and the magical, mystical tor rising up from the Somerset levels. So, so easy to believe that this is the legendary Avalon. There’s definitely something special about Glastonbury, and as you walk around you can sense it. If you search for Glastonbury in my blog search bar you’ll find several entries, and you can read about a couple of my visits there and why I think it’s so special. Of course my witches were going to visit. How could they not? And I’m not done with this wonderful little town just yet…
The first time I ever went to Whitby I fell in love with the town. I had my fifteenth birthday there, and its pull on me has never lessened in all the years since. I include a mention of Whitby in most of my series, as it gives a sense of place to my fictional collection of villages and towns. However, the Whitby you’ll read about in my contemporary romance and women’s fiction is a lot different to the Whitby you’ll find in my paranormal books. There’s another side to Whitby, and with its own mythology and legends, as well as its fascinating history and beautiful architecture, there’s a great deal to explore. In His Lawful Wedded Witch I touch on Whitby, but in Destiny of the Witch there’ll be a lot more about the place, and I can’t wait! Plus, it means I get to visit frequently for research purposes…