I have a bit of an obsession with sadness. In its purest form it always makes me feel at my most alive and inspires me to write.
In particular, I love to find the beauty in things that at first may appear bleak and barren.
Landscape is often a crucial aspect of a story, imparting emotions and ideas through themes and motifs. Classic novels like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are perfect examples of this. Scenes set on the windswept moorland represent the dramatic nature of the central love affair, and add atmosphere to the story.
Whether it’s the moors, coastline or the city, landscape puts me in a contemplative mood and centres my mind so that I can write.
At the weekend, I spent some time in the Lake District, where the mountains and lakes are beautiful. I came home feeling in touch with my creative side; a cliché maybe, but true.
Locations are important in my novel, Broken Things, which is set in the north east of England. The story opens on the beach at the South Gare near Redcar, where the Dunkirk scene from Atonement was filmed. It’s one of my favourite places because the landscape is so industrial, moody and run down. From the hulking steelworks to the shabby fisherman’s huts and litter-filled sand dunes, it’s desolate yet striking, and perfectly foreshadows the grief that runs throughout my novel.