Thursday 22 November 2012

UK Appreciation Month; James Dawson - Guest Post and Giveaway

James DawsonA Sense of Place
by James Dawson

The largest market for young adult fiction is North America. This is a fact. As such, the vast majority are set there. With the exception of a few nods to New York in particular, most seem to be set in fictional Eastern seaboard coastal towns – Genericville, NE. I guess this is so that the audience can identify their hometown within the vagueness.
Books set outside the US seem to present a slightly touristy version of a place. The UK is mostly London (The Name of the Star) while France is always Paris (Before I Die). But what about the rest of the UK? I think a sense of place – whatever the place – is key to a novel. The location is almost a living breathing character.
This is why I wanted to set my debut novel, Hollow Pike, in North Yorkshire. For one thing I grew up in Yorkshire and wanted to use my memories of the place, but also because it’s such a stunning part of the country.
A number of real life locations inspired my own fictional town (which hopefully isn’t too generic). Grassington, Skipton, Haworth and (my home town) Bingley all played a part. A key part of Yorkshire is its vastness. It’s the biggest county and you can tell – green, rolling hills and fields that seem to stretch for eternity. You could almost be in another world with no civilisation for miles. As a child I really did have forests to play in – and this inspired ‘Pike Copse’ – the haunted burial ground of the Hollow Pike witches. It had to be sprawling and it had to be remote. Yorkshire inspired the Bront√ęs, and it inspired me.
As for the town itself, I wanted to give a run-down, market town feel. My favourite location scene is where outsiders Kitty and Delilah show new arrival Lis around the town:
A number of the shops were boarded up entirely, while others stood in various states of ruin, with faded, chipped signs creaking in the wind. They had passed at least three bargain shops which proudly declared that all stock was ‘Only £1’ (or in one case ‘Only 99p’). Each of these stores had piles of tacky merchandise stacked up outside.
There seemed to be one large restaurant – an Italian called Luigi’s – that represented every Italian racial stereotype known to man, and looked like it hadn’t been decorated since the eighties. There were also a disproportionate number of pubs for such a small town. So far they’d passed The Cloven Hoof, The Slaughtered Lamb and The Green Man.
I felt that there must be thousands of UK young adults growing up in suburban towns exactly like Hollow Pike. We can’t all live in twee coastal resorts or towering metropolises after all. Crap towns are everywhere. Yorkshire has some astoundingly beautiful parts, but it also has its share of recession-hit ghost towns too.
Setting Hollow Pike somewhere real was a risk. If you’ve never seen Yorkshire some of the references might be lost – worse still I knew there were US readers who didn’t know what Yorkshire was. I’ve said before that I always write for a fourteen-year-old version of me, and he would have loved to have seen a creepy town not unlike his own in a novel.

Hollow PikeHollow Pike

Something wicked this way comes...

She thought she’d be safe in the country, but you can’t escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her. 

Lis thinks she’s being paranoid - after all who would want to murder her? 

She doesn’t believe in the local legends of witchcraft. 

She doesn’t believe that anything bad will really happen to her. You never do, do you? 

Not until you’re alone in the woods, after dark - and a twig snaps... Hollow Pike - where witchcraft never sleeps.

How would you like to win a copy of  Hollow Pike? 
- Just fill in the form below. One free entry plus a ton of extra entries.
- UK/IRE only
- Ends 30th November 

Author Bio: 
Raised in West Yorkshire, James eventually moved to Brighton where he wrote for local papers and magazines whilst working as a primary school teacher.
In 2011, James left teaching to write full-time and now lives in London.
Hollow Pike is his first novel for young adults.
Don't forget to stop by Misty's blog today to see Catherine Fisher's post with a UK/IRE Giveaway.
Click on the button below.


caroline.taylor078 said...

Hollow Pike is one of my fave books of the year and I also follow James in twitter and he is very funny, can't wait for his next book Cruel Summer!

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

I haven't read nearly as many YA novels set in the UK as I have novels set in the US, but I do agree that it's mostly limited to London. It was one of the things that I appreciated about Hollow Pike, actually, that it wasn't set in London. :) Great post!

Carly @ Fiction Fascination said...

Yea, I think far too many YA novels are set in the US, so it's a nice change to see others set in the UK. I'm trying my hand at writing my own novel, which is set in Northern Ireland. I really would love to win Hollow Pike as I have heard awesome things about it! Thanks for the post & the giveaway! :)

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