Kirsty Ferry is one of my favourite authors and probably one of my most reviewed authors. Her most recent book is Summer’s Secret Marigold, the fourth in her Cornish Secret series. She’s such a prolific writer that I haven’t been able to fit this one in this time! Being set in Cornwall, it got me thinking about the locations in Kirsty’s novels. She sets her books in many different places in the UK. I asked her to tell us a bit about her settings and why she has chosen them.
I’ve used locations all over the British Isles for my books, and I’m going to share some of my favourite locations here, and a few reasons why I like them so much.
Bloomsbury crops up in Summer’s Secret Marigold as the area in which Bohemian artist Elsie Pencradoc lives, and also in The Girl in the Painting as the area Corrie ends up wandering around, guided by the ghostly hand of Daisy. I just love that part of London – it was, for example, the home of the Bloomsbury Group of artists, and the birthplace of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I adore the old townhouses and the garden squares, and of course the British Museum. It’s the perfect setting for some of my more ‘arty’ characters to take up residence in.
Norfolk and Suffolk
Hartsford Hall, in the Hartsford Mysteries series, is partially based on Ickworth Hall, which is located in Suffolk. If we holiday down there, we always stay on the Norfolk/Suffolk border and it very much feels like a second home. The landscape and feel of the place changes as you go through the area, and we always look for our favourite landmarks on the way down. When we see the Lynford Stag we always give a little cheer, and my husband’s favourite part is the crunch of the gravel as we open the gates and turn into our holiday home. It’s a special place writing wise too. When I went for the first time with my parents in 1997, I sat in one of the lovely areas of garden near the River Waveney, and scribbled away at a story in my notebook, little knowing that in the future I’d be doing edits on the Hartsford series there, and celebrating a publication day as well whilst on holiday.
Whitby, Staithes and North Yorkshire
The Rossetti Mysteries series has locations throughout North Yorkshire, including Whitby and Staithes. Again, Staithes got the vote because of its close connection to art and artists, and Whitby got the vote because, well, Whitby! It’s an amazing place, and if you ever get a chance to go to one of the Goth Weekends I highly recommend it. You honestly feel as if you’re under-dressed if you go in ‘normal’ clothes. I did my first book-signing on an October Goth Weekend evening. The Abbey was lit up with a rainbow of colours and the cobbled streets were seething with people dressed in all manner of fabulous outfits. But were they all living people? Who on earth could tell, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves regardless!
Cornwall and Somerset
Amazing memories of childhood holidays and over-indulging in cream scones are maybe not good enough reasons to pick these places, but the art connection, the mystical feeling, the landscape, the folklore and the incredible town of Glastonbury perhaps explain it a little more. I don’t think I’ve used Devon properly yet, but I should really. When I was a child we used to stay in a cottage near Tiverton, which was slap bang in the middle of those counties, and we used to drop into Cornwall and head up to Somerset on day trips. Fantastic memories, and, like Rosa in Summer at Carrick Park, I loved looking for dragon rocks in the sea near Tintagel. As an adult, we’ve visited Glastonbury a few times, and the Chalice Well is so lovely, it had to make an appearance as well – which it did in Christmas on the Isle of Skye.
I love, love, love Edinburgh. The Christmas markets are astonishing. One day, I had to make a work trip up there near Christmas, and we finished early so had a look around the markets. I went back and bought train tickets to go back up after Christmas – which was a bit stupid as half the stalls had, of course, gone, and we nearly got stuck there in a freak blizzard. Not that I would have minded a night there, to be honest. I also graduated at Usher Hall in Edinburgh, so again that’s a very special town for me. It was the ‘purrfect’ place to locate the Schubert series – and he does have a meander around the Christmas Markets himself as well.
The Isle of Skye and the Highlands of Scotland
What can I say – these places fire, and always have fired, my imagination. I love the Jacobites and the stories about them, and the Highlands scenery is beyond compare. Again, ‘Little Me’ took notebooks and art stuff aplenty on childhood holidays, blown away by the ruined crofts and the fairytale castles. I think I must have stored up all that inspiration and poured it out onto the pages as an adult. I hope I’ve done it all justice.
Summer’s Secret Marigold – from the back of the book
Can a summer secret from the past allow a new future to bloom?
For two people who run competing arts centres in Cornwall, Sybill Helyer and Coren Penhaligon get on rather well. So well in fact that Sybill often wishes the owner of Pencradoc Arts Centre would look up from his spreadsheets for a minute and notice her. Unfortunately, even that’s too much to ask from workaholic Coren.
However, when the pair join forces to run an exhibition on the wild and wonderful life of Elsie Pencradoc, a talented artist who lived at Coren’s estate in the early twentieth century, they’re in for a surprise. How will a secret sketchbook and an exquisite gothic dress from a long-ago midsummer costume ball lead them to the scandalous truth about Elsie – and perhaps encourage them to reveal a few long-kept secrets of their own?
Buying link: Summer’s Secret Marigold
About the Author
Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.
Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.
Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.