Open Book Blog Hop – The setting of my books

‘Talk about the setting of your book.  Is it entirely imaginary, or is it based on a real-life place?’

I think this is quite an interesting topic and I have enjoyed the other posts for this blog hop that I have read to date.

My older children and adult books all have real settings. This is largely a factor of the historical fiction nature of my books, the setting is real and so are the many of the events featured in my books.

While the Bombs Fell is a fictionalised account of my mother’s life as a small girl growing up in the small town of Bungay, Suffolk during World War II. The book revolves around her experiences in her home town and its surrounds and the settings are all real. There is lots of fascinating history in Bungay and Bungay Castle is one of the amazing historical features of the town. The castle, the ruins of Bungay Priory, St Mary’s Church, the Roman well and the legendary Black Dog of Bungay all feature in this story for children aged 10 to 14 years old.


The farmhouse on Nethergate Street where my mom grew up.

Through the Nethergate was inspired by all the ghosts that haunt the town of Bungay and especially one famous and very old inn which shares a wall in its cellar with Bungay Castle. I came across the myths about the over twenty ghosts which are said to haunt this inn while doing research for While the Bombs Fell. I decided to write a short story about the deaths of each of the ghosts and this gradually became Through the Nethergate, which features the Black Dog of Bungay and the legendary Hugh Bigod who owned Bungay Castle. The earthy settings in Through the Nethergate are mainly real places and are related to the specific ghost/s that the book features in that particular setting. The depiction of hell is obviously purely fantasy and was much easier to write than the read places which had to be thoroughly researched.


My new novel, A Ghost and His Gold also involves mainly real settings although the ghosts are fictional. The story follows the lives and ultimate deaths of three people living through the Anglo Boer War. Pieter is an Afrikaans Boer [farmer] who fights for the independence of his country against the British Empire. His story revolves around Mafeking, Kimberley and the Gatsrand in South Africa and the real battles fought by the Potchefstroom commando.

Robert is my British trooper and he is in Mafeking during the siege. I had to do a lot of research, particularly of old maps to describe the events in this town during this time in history. There were so many forts and tunnels to describe as well as the railway line and the native Stadt. Robert also spends time in Elands River where he is involved in another siege.


The battle of Elands River during the Anglo Boer War

Twelve year old Estelle, Pieter’s oldest daughter, moves from Irene, near Pretoria, to a remote farm in Zeerust and then to the Mafeking concentration camp. Her story also required significant research and is set in real places.

I have yet to write a story that does not involve real places as even the sci-fi novel I was half way through is set in London and Scotland. I will now have to revamp this to include Covid-19 as it is such a game changer.

Do other blog-hoppers write about imaginary or real-life places? Click on the link below to find out:


  1. Link your blog to this hop.
  2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
  3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
  4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
  5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!


26 thoughts on “Open Book Blog Hop – The setting of my books

  1. I like real settings, too, Robbie. Readers relate to them. And they work very well with fantasy and science fiction too. I’m listening to Carry On by Rainbow Rowell right now and it’s all about magic, but it’s set in London, and there are normal people in it too. That crossover has a lot of appeal. Very interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very great information, now i can better build the imagery. Will read very soon. Thought i can do during this lockdown, but some of the others are not locked down enough. 😉 Excuse the longer delay, in visiting your blog. Best wishes! Stay save and well. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be a good discussion. I honestly think you can’t exclude this from dystopia or sci-fi that involves planet earth in the short to medium term and probably even the long term. This will reshape life as we know it.


  3. I originally read that map as “Anglo BEER war” and immediately went to all the “discussions” between Gringos and
    Hispanos when I lived on the Texas Mexico border about this beer vs that beer. Only an American. Okay. Real places with fictionalized inhabitants, and/or fictionalized functions. Works for me. As does Google. Can’t have a big ol’ canyon or a river or a freeway where none could be. But I also use ubiquitous ‘should be there’ things. Like “we went downtown to a pricey fern bar and steakhouse.” Because every downtown, almost, has at least one.


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