One Last Summer
I am so sorry for posting this late!
I'm delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for Victoria's new book and I am pleased to be able to offer you a guest post from Victoria herself about Melbury Priory, where her new novel, One Last Summer is set.
Locations are really important when I’m writing. I always like to have a clear image of where my stories are set and they are very often inspired by real places. My last few novels have been set in old country houses in beautiful gardens. The house and gardens in Love in an English Garden were based on the National Trust property of Bateman’s in Sussex, and I love imagining my characters walking around the grounds there.
My latest novel, One Last Summer, is set in an ancient building – Melbury Priory which was inspired by Woodspring Priory in Somerset, owned by the Landmark Trust – an amazing charity which rescues and restores abandoned buildings and then let them out as holiday homes. I had the great privilege of booking Woodspring a few years ago to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I booked it in secret, arranging a party and inviting lots of artist and writer friends! It was so exciting and I’ll never forget the moment we arrived and found the old key which was the size of my hand, and exploring the priory for the first time, venturing up stone spiral staircases and entering centuries-old rooms. I knew it was a special place and that I had to set a novel there one day and, before we were even halfway through our stay there, I had started making notes for the story which was to become One Last Summer.
Of course a real place will only take you so far and, inevitably, imagination will play its part, so Melbury isn’t a replica of Woodspring. I invented much of the garden and added a swimming pool for my characters to enjoy, but that’s the fun of writing fiction. I love blending the real and imagined to make a special, unique world.
Another example of this is with my Book Lovers series which is set in the fictional town of Castle Clare in Suffolk. This is based on the real market town of Clare. There’s a beautiful independent bookshop in Clare but, in my fictional world, there are three bookshops run by the Nightingale family. We often visit Clare and, sometimes, my mind plays tricks on me and I half expect to see the three bookshops which I have invented and I’m a little bit disappointed when I realise that they don’t actually, exist!