A Journey Through Ambeth, Part II

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the real landscapes that had inspired Oak and Mist, my first Ambeth book. With the release of Hills And Valleys, the third book in the series, that landscape has now expanded somewhat. So, with the past week being what it was, I thought I might take a wander through my fantasy world, and share it with you 🙂

I hope this isn’t too much like Toto pulling back the wizard’s curtain in Oz – I just wanted to share the landscapes I had in mind when I wrote the Chronicles. For Alma’s adventures in the human world, I used real locations – places I’d lived in or visited many times that had left an impression on me. However, when I created Ambeth, I didn’t have specific places in mind, wanting instead to write the world I could see in my mind’s eye. Later, when I looked back, I could see where the influences had come from.


Hearst Castle, California

‘From out of an immense structure of white stone came towers topped with tiles that gleamed like mother of pearl… It shone so brightly in the sun that Alma blinked, shading her eyes.’  Oak and Mist


Criccieth Castle, Wales

‘My heart rejoices at the thought that our old castle will guard my secret, high on its mound behind its twin-towered gate.’ Hills and Valleys

Notre Dame Doors

Doors to Notre Dame, Paris

‘The large wooden doors… were wondrously crafted, with hinges made from intricately shaped and figured metal that curved across the… wood like living things.’ Oak and Mist

Criccieth, Wales

Criccieth, Wales

‘Alma sat with Merewyn on a low wall near the jetty, looking along the curving beach to the mountains beyond.’ Hills And Valleys

Inspiration comes to us from many places. I recently walked past a grove of trees in my neighbourhood and immediately had another book idea. An unusual outside light on a neighbour’s house inspired a short story. So how about my fellow writers out there? Do you write from the real world, or gather influences to shape a new landscape? And where have you been that has inspired you?

Thursday Doors – St Mary’s Church


This is one of the entrance doors into St Mary’s Church, Hemel Hempstead. I love the colour of the wood and the curling ironwork hinges, reminiscent of the more ornate doors at Notre Dame, Paris.

St Mary’s Church is in Hemel Hempstead, England. It is a Norman building, built between 1140 and 1180, and has a wonderful 14th century spire, one of the tallest in Europe. The Church is still in use – friends of mine were married there, and you can hire out the adjacent Church Hall for parties. It’s located in the Old Town, and there are plenty of stories about Henry VIII rampaging through these parts, chasing after Anne Boleyn. I wonder if they ever visited the Church? 😉


————————————————————————————————————This is my entry for Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge – to see more doors, or add one of your own, visit his blog and click on the link.

Thursday Doors – Notre Dame, Paris

Notre Dame DoorsThis is the Portal of the Last Judgement at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Probably one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, construction was started in 1163 and it opened to the public in 1345. Notre Dame is a marvel of gothic architecture, filled with detail inside and out – these doors are just one example. I particularly love the curling hinges and the way they are almost like lace set against the wood.

There are actually three sets of doors on the front of the building – the Portal of the Virgin, the Portal of the Last Judgement and the Portal of St Anne. When you visit, they bring you in through the left hand set (the Virgin) and you exit through the right hand side (St Anne), having completed a circuit of the cathedral. We visited on a bitterly cold day, just after New Year, yet the cathedral was still full of visitors, the Nativity a gleaming frosty display, candles lighting up chapel ceilings painted with stars.

Notre Dame InteriorI took this quick photo looking down the central nave- it is a bit blurry, as I’m not sure I was supposed to be taking photos inside. However, you can see the rose window and get a sense of the columns and grandeur. You’ll also notice a whole lot of orbs floating around. My daughter took another photo from lower down (she was four at the time) and there are no orbs in hers – however, they seem to be having a party in mine. Of course Notre Dame is an ancient building and there were lots of people there that day, stirring up dust. Still, I wonder. I’ve written a couple of other posts about orbs – interesting how they show up in some photos and not others.

As usual, my Thursday door is part of Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge. So pop on over and check out the other doors from around the world, or add one of your own.