Rachel McLean

Author of Twisted Realities

My research trip to London – was it a wasted trip?

Last week I spent most of the week in London. I had three objectives:

  • To attend London Book Fair, meet some other authors and learn some new stuff about writing and publishing.
  • To go to WordCamp London, meet up with some of my WordPress friends and learn about what’s hot in WordPress circles right now.
  • To research a bunch of locations for various books, take a look at where my characters live, and walk some of the routes they take in my books.

On the first two counts, I met my objectives. I caught up with friends, made some new ones, and learned loads. Yay!

But on the third I’m not so sure. I covered about 25 miles in four days and saw a load of locations. I found an amazingly tranquil street a 10 minute walk from the Houses of Parliament where Kira will live in A House Divided; I explored the river around Sonia’s house where the opening scenes of Thicker Than Water‘s prequel will take place (when I get around to writing it in 2019); and I followed Alex’s route from New Scotland Yard to St Katherine’s Dock in the first of the Multiverse Investigations books (the one I wrote in a week).

I certainly got plenty of exercise, and got to know my characters better in the process. But there was one downside.

I have to admit that when I arrived back at New Street Station, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief to be back in Birmingham. Five days in London was fun, and it was productive. But it left me tired and irritable, and that’s not just because of all that walking. I realised that I’m simply more at ease in Birmingham than I am in London.

birmingham skyline silhouetted in black

Birmingham’s skyline – a pretty good location for a comedy sci-fi crime series, imho.

It got me thinking. I plan to write about ten books in the Multiverse Investigations series (assuming people want to read them). Ten books means a lot of research trips. It would be so much easier, cheaper and more convenient to just move the books to Birmingham.

So I’ve decided to do just that. New New Scotland Yard has become Lloyd House, the home of West Midlands Police HQ. The first murder takes place not in a luxury flat in St Katherine’s Docks on the Thames, but in a luxury flat overlooking Birmingham’s bustling canals. Alex will still be Scottish, Sarita will still be Welsh, but Mike – well, Mike will be a grumpy Brummie, who turns out to have a good reason for his grumpiness.

Research trips can start from tomorrow if I want them to, and won’t involve expensive train journeys or hotel stays. Or spending too much time away from my family. Result!

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