today I have the pleasure to kick off Freda Lightfoot’s blog tour for her latest, ‘Home is Where the Heart is’, which was published on 19th November. I haven’t had the opportunity to read Freda’s previous works, but thanks to amazing guys from MidasPr I’ve got a review copy of this book and will be reading it soon. Must say it does sound brilliant and I can’t wait to dive in. Big thanks to MidasPr for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, and to lovely Freda for her post. Enjoy!
A Sense of Place through Character
A sense of place is much more than pretty scenery. It must have a character of its own. It needs to seduce the reader into feeling a part of it. They need to feel the power of its personality as many people choose to buy a book because of where it is set. Descriptive passages are not simply a piece of pretty padding. I like to make sure that readers will find far more to it than that. It must have a purpose even while creating a sense of place.
I research a great deal to understand a region and be able to recreate the intrinsic character of the place: its history, values and social problems. Morals and ideals, its religion, politics and industry, and what affect these have upon the people who live there.
A person’s character becomes closely associated with his or her roots. We are what our parents made us but also greatly influenced by where we live, by the history we see around us and the shared memories of traumas, tragedies and significant events that the area itself suffered. Particularly true in times of war. Where a person lives and works can become a vital part of their nature, linked to their home setting through emotion, memory, education and religion, class and upbringing. What kind of house does my heroine and hero live in? What kind of neighbourhood? Is it Hazel Tree Crescent or the slums of Moss Side? A sense of belonging for a place can also be the spark to trigger off the theme for the entire book as well as help to develop a sense of place.
But I do try not to be clichéd. Not all Scotsman are mean with their money. Not all Yorkshire men keep ferrets. Lancastrians don’t keep coal in the baths and Londoners don’t all speak like East enders.
Folk in Lancashire, who have known hard times, and whose history by comparison was far more grim, are entirely different from a person who lived their life in rich Cheshire or rural Westmorland. They have a marked sense of humour which helps get them through the tough times. ‘Eeh, you have to laugh or you’d cry.’
Minor characters can also illustrate some particular feature of the area: a trade, tradition, a way of life now gone, period or class. They can provide light relief or a window through which to view the times. The way a character speaks is important, but I try to make sure that the regional dialect isn’t overdone or it can be confusing for readers.
Place helps to form the sort of person he or she is. Just as I show character through personality traits and the trials and tribulations they face, I also attempt to reveal the nature of the area they inhabit.
1945: Christmas is approaching and Cathie Morgan is awaiting the return of her beloved fiancé, Alexander Ramsay. But she has a secret that she’s anxious to share with him. One that could change everything between them. Her sister has died and she wants to adopt her son. When the truth is finally revealed, Alex immediately calls off the wedding, claiming that the baby is actually Cathie’s, causing all of Cathie’s fears to be realised. As Cathie battles to reassure Alex of her fidelity, she must also juggle the care of the baby and their home.
But then Alex crosses the line with a deceit that is unforgivable, leaving Cathie to muster the courage to forge a life for her and her nephew alone.
Will Cathie ever be able to trust another man again and as peace begins to settle will she ever be able to call a house a home…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Lancashire, Freda Lightfoot has been a teacher, bookseller and in a mad moment even tried her hand at the ‘good life’ as a smallholder in the English Lake District. Inspired by this tough life on the fells, memories of her Lancashire childhood, and her passion for history she has published over forty sagas and historical novels. Freda has lived in the Lake District and Cornwall but now lives in Spain in the winter but still likes to spend rainy summers in the UK.