Setting

Can you tell us a little about the setting for your novel? How important was this to you? How familiar are you with the places you describe?

The setting is really a journey; from the Wirral Peninsula though the Welsh borders, then across the Bay of Biscay. After a brief stay at Biscarrosse up the Garronne and Ariege rivers to Muret and Foix and finally to Monsegur.

This route was the only one possible for the story I have to tell.

I have spent time at every place on the route.

Just a few highlights.

I lived for several years in Helsby (originally Hell’s Bay) which is at the base of the Wirral Peninsula. The local council is still known as “Vale Royal”.

I have walked over the sands at low tide to Middle Eye island and made the return trip in a camouflaged boat.  I was birdwatching not deer hunting.

The Aldley house, Hellens Manor,  is called “The Jewel in the Crown of Hertsfordshire homes”. Of particular interest to me was the stonework crest of the Black Prince over the main fireplace.

“The Carrick Roads” at Falmouth is beautiful  and the view from Pendennis point fabulous. At one stage I waxed lyrical in the book, but it slowed the story.

The Entrance to the bay of Arcachon is just as dangerous now as it ever was but locals have turned sailing in and out into a specialised sport. The local chandlers are very greatful for the work it brings their way.

The last time I visited Arcachon they were giving oysters away at every street corner in an attempt to get an entry in the Guinness book of records for the most oysters consumed in a single day.

I was in a tent on the sand by the lake at Biscarrosse on 3rd June 1980,  when a fault occurred in the American NAVROD early warning system, The entire French Atlantic Airforce scrambled from their base just north of Biscarrosse. They were breaking the sound barrier before they had crossed the lake. That night I was sure I was going to die.

The quays at Landon and La Reole are still in remarkable good condition though they are no longer used. They could not be considered attractive but they certainly are very interesting.They are conveniently close to Sauterne.

“La Maison de Prince Noir” in La Reole is still inhabited and it is not possible to gain access. On the other had his other property, just outside La Reole, the Château Levison is a winery and the owner gave me a guided tour.

All the towns along the Garronne have attractive settings.

The top of the hill at Clermont Dessous, where the festival of the moon was held, really does have spectacular views.

One of the best restaurants I have ever visited is the Pont Napoleon at Moissac.

The mill at the Ile de Beaucaire still exists, spanning the mill race. The island is now a campsite and the mill houses the campsite administration.

The swimming hole at Muret still exists.

Château Foix is wonderful, although Lady Eleanors apartments are in ruins. It is now considered too dangerous to enter the caves and they are barred off.

I climbed Monsegur and saw the alignment of the suns rays at daybreak.

The views from the top of Monsegur are also quite remakable.

Though we don’t quite get there in book 1, but everyone should visit Carcassone once in their life.

If the “The Prisoner of Foix” were to be successful, I would do a travel guide to the whole of the route ( references to places of interest and best markets and restaurants).  I would of course have to visit everywhere one more time, to make sure my information is up to date!

I know, I know that is more than you wanted or needed but…

On the web site under HOME/BOOK1 THE PRISONER OF FOIX/PRISONER PROMOTIONAL/PLACES. There is a photo essay on all  the places on the journey.

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The most dangerous woman in the world

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