Setting Out on a Journey

Francesca takes a journey around the settings she’s used so far

At the moment I’m working on a number of projects, and it got me thinking about the different settings I’m using. On the whole I’ve used known settings in my short stories, novels and novellas, though I’m likely to rename them and take liberties. Some of the locations are from my childhood, like Littlehampton, Worthing and Brighton (renamed Costerham, Ording and Telmstone respectively).

Brighton, taken from the Wheel.

Brighton, taken from the Wheel.

Worthing Pier.

Worthing Pier. Something I’m working on currently is set in Worthing, as Worthing, and I hope to have news of that soon.









Then there are the settings I’ve discovered through family research like the former mining town of Abertysswg (where my mother was born) and Castle Pill, near Milford Haven, where one of my great-great grandfathers was born. These settings gave me the idea for three short stories, one about someone researching her family (like me!) and two historicals set in 1908 and 1915.


Some of my ancestors lived in Castle Pill, somewhere around this field, as far as I can tell.

Abertysswg, all evidence of the coal mines invisible these days. My mother was born in a house in the middle terrace on the hill.

Abertysswg, all evidence of the coal mines invisible these days. My mother was born in a house in the middle terrace on the hill.









A novella set in ‘Telmstone’ also has a section set in Rome. I’ve visited there three times and had longed to use it in my writing. And what could be a more passionate setting for a romance?

Newcastle: two of my characters stood on Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Newcastle: two of my characters stood on Gateshead Millennium Bridge.


Piazza della Rotunda in Rome, with the Pantheon in the background. A bustling setting.








My stories have taken me on excursions to many other places, including Skye, Margate, Brixham, Newcastle and the coast of Ceridigion. Of all the settings I’ve used, the only one I haven’t known or visited, as far as I’m aware, is Brisbane, where I relied on Google and Google Earth for information. Having had a good look at it, I’d love to visit there some time in the future.

Brixham Miracles 2008

Brixham: my daughter and brother-in-law are on the dinghy. This inspired two stories

While I’m writing stories in different locations, I often feel I’m actually there. It’s a great way of visiting anywhere you like as you sit at your desk. Or is that just me?

Happy travels.

Do you use settings you’ve visited, or do you write outside of your experience?



8 thoughts on “Setting Out on a Journey

  1. Enjoyable blog, Francesca. I love to travel, and I love to travel vicariously in books. I’ve never been to Venice, but I’ve read novels, all very different, set in Venice, so I can half believe I’ve been there. I often choose novels to read which have exotic settings, or, when I’m visiting a new country I’ll choose a novel set there. This also widens my reading and I’m quite happy to read translations.
    In my own writing I’ve set novels in New England,and West Wales and I’ve written stories set in Sri Lanka and South Africa.
    Awaiting my attention on my bookshelf are novels by:Anne Enright (Ireland) Elena Ferrante(Naples) and Anne Tyler(Baltimore), so I’ll be off on my, imaginary, travels soon.

    • You use more exotic locations in your books than I do, Angela. I’ve been to Venice twice. It would certainly make an intriguing setting. I can think of two novels I’ve read set in there: Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord and Miss Garnet’s Angel by Sally Vickers. They were also very different but used the setting to good effect. I’m currently working through Santa Montefiore who’s also strong on settings.

  2. I did enjoy this piece. Like you Francesca, I’ve used settings I know very well but I’ve also invented some too. I’ve also used Google Earth to walk the streets of Melbourne to help with research for another novel. I do think it’s obviously easier to write about something you know but there’s something exciting about building your own town or village. Elaine Roberts

  3. Lovely blog, which I was drawn to read because I’m obsessed with settings! I really can’t write about a place I don’t know well, although like you I tend to change the names so I can take liberties when required. It’s great to get that feeling of being in a place when you’re writing – and when you’re reading, too, imo.

    • Yes, I think setting is very important, as you say, Gill. There’s nothing worse than reading fiction and thinking, ‘Where am I meant to be?’ It’s certainly something I look out for in my own writing.

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