One of the nicest things about being a writer is going on research trips.
I always visit the locations where my books take place (unless I’ve invented those locations), so I can be sure of making things realistic. I’ll never forget the time I read a book set in Swanage, where I spent my childhood holidays. In this book there was a scene set in the late afternoon, with the sun setting over the sea. Problem is, Swanage faces east and is backed by cliffs. So the sunset is marked by the beach being slowly cast into shadow. It jolted me out of the story and convinced me to always visit my locations.
In the book I’m writing at the moment, A House Divided, there’s a scene in a police station. I’m not going to tell you who it involves or why (spoilers!) but suffice to say it’s there. So when I learned that a local police station was opening its doors to the public before the building was sold, I jumped at the chance to visit.
Canterbury Road police station in Perry Barr was built in Victorian times and would have been a beautiful building. But I can see why it doesn’t work as a police station today. It’s draughty and expensive to maintain, and not equipped for modern policing. But I got a chance to chat to some current and former police officers and staff and find out how the building would have been used, what the procedures are when someone’s arrested and arrives at the station, and I also got to see the (horrible) cells.
I took a few photos during the trip, and bought a book on women in policing from the woman who wrote it, which was a bonus. Here are my photos: