Work In Progress

Best Friend or Betrayer?

As writing progresses, I've discovered I need to know more about Lily and Lou when they were aged 19. 

What are their homes like, where do they live and which college are they at?

At 18, Lily is living with her mother in Waltham Cross. Lou, also 18, is living with her mother in Enfield and the girls both attend Hertford Regional College at Broxbourne. The college is just a 15-minute walk for Lily but is a 40 minute train ride for Lou.

This might sound a fairly standard set-up, but why is it necessary to consider it and what impact does it have on the book?

The girls are in fairly ordinary home situations, living with their mothers in their own parts of town, but attending the same college. In Merry Go Round, I describe how their friendship begins, whilst in college. In Best Friend or Betrayer, I need to flesh that out further, so had to find a college and houses which are realistically placed. It took me an age to find the right college as I was searching for sixth-form college. When I dropped sixth-form from the search, I discovered that Hertford Regional College in Broxbourne. Whilst it is only a 15-minute walk for Lily, it was a 40 minute tube journey for Lou. I didn’t think this was unreasonable as it took me 40 mins to get to college by bus back in 1981. I have emailed the college in Broxbourne to see what courses they had running in those days for sixth form students.

To make things more tricky, Lily’s mother dies when she is just 18, this is a tremendous responsibility for her to withstand. And the girls grow up. Lou begins work at the University and Lily finds herself at the bank.

To understand Lily’s position better, I researched what house prices were like between 1998 and about 2002, to ensure there was enough money left from her mother’s estate for Lily to buy a flat. It is likely she will have moved to her flat in Barnes Green in around 2001 or 2002 when she begins work at the bank. My focus of attention then turned to Lou, who needed a house or flat for Lou to rent. She begins work at the University of Middlesex, which is an hour away from her mother’s house in Enfield.

I spent an age looking at houses on Rightmove to see whether they looked right for the characters, which I think I have nailed now. I also had to think about moving Christine, Lou’s mum, to be a little nearer to her as the pair spend time together. She’s now living in a complex which is about 40 mins on the tube for Lou. Although one scene had to change slightly as I realised there is no Marks and Spencer in the place I moved Christine to, the scene now takes place in Waitrose! See, the devil is in the detail. Someone living in Woodside Park Road in Finchley will have spotted that, and my credibility undermined.

As you can see from the little screen shot, there is so much to consider. Whilst this might ‘just’ be a story these are the details which make a story relatable and reliable, they’re the things which allow the reader to have faith in the writer. They allow themselves to be led by the narrator into the world that is being created. 

As a reader, I hate it when I discover an anomaly; it puts me off reading and I lose confidence in the author. I guess that’s why it is something so important to me as a writer. 

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