Why London? A Guest Post From Robert Scragg
Robert Scragg’s debut novel What Falls Between the Cracks comes out in paperback this month! We caught up with him to hear more about why he picked London as the setting.
One of the most common questions I’ve been asked so far is why I chose London as the setting for my Porter & Styles series, when I live up in Newcastle. Thinking back to when I first started reading crime, most of what I picked up seemed to be set in a major city like London, New York, Washington D.C., etc. Whether that subliminally influenced me, I couldn’t say for sure. There were two things that I was mindful of at the time though, that really did really drive my choice.
At the time, I was spending a lot of time in London for my day job, so got to know parts of it pretty well. Even more of a factor than that though, was the nature of the plot I wanted to write. Time for a side-confession – What Falls Between the Cracks wasn’t the first book I wrote featuring Porter & Styles. A few years earlier, they appeared (albeit more as secondary characters) in a draft of another book than didn’t get published. For that plot to work, I felt I needed somewhere bigger than my hometown. Somewhere on a sprawling scale, a bigger stage for my antagonist to work on, large enough for them to remain anonymous for longer, and London just felt like a better fit at the time. Even though that book didn’t get picked up, feedback was positive, and I liked the characters enough to give them a second outing, and by then, they were fixed in my mind as London-based.
I’m still happy I made the right choice for these particular stories and characters, but in the last five or ten years, we’ve seen some superb examples of why you don’t have to pick a huge city to tell a great tale. Compelling characters can worm their way into a reader’s brain wherever you drop them into, so if you’re putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for the first time, ask yourself whether you’re choosing your setting out of habit, because it’s similar to what you read and watch, or whether it because it’s the right one for the story you want to tell. They might even end up being one and the same thing, but it’s definitely time well spent.
Thanks for the insight, Robert! What Falls Between the Cracks is available in paperback now from our website and will be available in all bookshop from the 20th September. If you’d like to hear more about it, look out for the blog tour starting this week: