Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Margarita Morris to my blog. As writers, we often choose to set our stories in real-life locales we know well, our experience and knowledge of the locale helping us to add extra layers of detail to the story. In this post, Margarita discusses her connection to the northern coastal town of Scarborough, the setting of her YA novels, Scarborough Fair and the very-soon-to-be-released Scarborough Ball. She also shares some rather lovely photographs. Take it away, Margarita!
My young-adult thrillers Scarborough Fair and Scarborough Ball are both set in the real-life seaside town of Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast in England. I love stories with a strong sense of place, and Scarborough, with its layers of history, was the perfect setting for a split-time novel.
Scarborough has a long and colourful history dating back to the Stone Age and Roman times. A whistle stop tour of Scarborough’s past would include, amongst other things, the invasion by King Hardrada of Norway in 1066; the building of the castle in 1136; numerous sieges and attacks from the 14th to the 17th centuries; the discovery of spa water in 1626; the coming of the railway in 1845; the death of Anne Brontë in 1849; the building of the Grand Hotel in 1867; bombing by German warships in 1914 and the landslide in 1993 that caused the Holbeck Hill Hotel to fall into the sea.
I grew up in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, and Scarborough was our nearest seaside town, about sixty miles away so we often went there for holidays or day trips. We now live near Oxford, but when our two boys were young I decided Scarborough would be the perfect place for family holidays. I found a lovely little holiday cottage in Tollergate, a steep, cobbled street near the South Bay. We rented that cottage for a week for a few years. In Scarborough
Fair, Rose’s grandmother lives in the very same house in Tollergate.
From Scarborough’s South Bay you can see, all at once, the medieval castle on the headland, old fishermen’s cottages, the Victorian Grand Hotel and esplanade, and modern-day amusement arcades. It’s as if all the periods of Scarborough’s history are present at once. This was what gave me the idea for a story set in multiple time periods.
Scarborough Fair combines a Victorian mystery set in 1899 with a contemporary thriller. The trick in writing this kind of book is to find a way to link the two time periods. The protagonist of the present-day story, Rose, explores the Victorian mystery by reading letters belonging to her great-great- grandmother, Mary. In Scarborough Ball Rose inherits a memoir written by her great-grandmother, Lilian, which tells the story of what happened to her in the 1920s.
I also used locations as a way to link the time periods. The Grand Hotel features prominently in both books because it’s such an iconic building in the town. In Scarborough Fair Alice and Mary stay at the Grand Hotel in 1899 and in Scarborough Ball Lilian attends a New Year’s Eve Ball there in 1923. However, when the modern-day characters visit the hotel they are somewhat dismayed by the presence of slot machines amongst the Victorian opulence.
The Grand Hotel has definitely gone downmarket since its heyday in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Another Scarborough landmark, The Futurist, features in Scarborough Ball. It started life as a cinema in the 1920s, then became a theatre. Recently it has closed down and its future (no pun intended) is uncertain. In Scarborough Ball I imagine one possible alternative to its proposed demolition.
In both books there is also a contemporary thriller involving Rose and her boyfriend, Dan. The protagonists find themselves in plenty of danger, up against a ruthless villain. In Scarborough Fair I explore the idea of chance or fortune and in Scarborough Ball I take as my themes revenge and justice.
Scarborough Fair and Scarborough Ball are both available in paperback and Kindle editions.The Kindle editions are currently available at £0.99/$0.99 and on Kindle Unlimited.
Scarborough Ball will be released on 16 December 2016.
Margarita Morris is the author of four novels: Oranges for Christmas, The Sleeping Angel, Scarborough Fair and Scarborough Ball. She studied Modern Languages at Jesus College, Oxford, then worked in computing for eleven years. In 2016 she launched The Good Writer website covering aspects of English grammar, self-publishing and creative writing. When she’s not writing Margarita enjoys swimming, yoga and singing with an Oxford-based chamber choir. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two sons.
If you’d like to know more about Margarita, you can find her at the following links:
Author website: http://margaritamorris.com/
Goodwriter website: http://www.thegoodwriter.com/