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Finding the place

I enjoy writing my sff set in Ireland, not least for the research and the finding of appropriate places. One of the reasons HBO chose Norn Iron for Game of Thrones was the access to the amount of different locations, all close to each other.

For Inish Carraig 2 I'm having a lot of fun finding the places I want to set the scenes. So far, I've pulled out an old airfield, Portstewart Strand with its stretching beach.

Now, these are all lovely locations to use but for some of the scenes I want something a little bit special. My idea, without giving too many spoilers, was to find a place where some post-invasion survivors could have made into a compound where, survialist style, they've come together for safety. My first thought was to use somewhere remote, perhaps some of the mountains, but that didn't suit what I wanted in the end.

At which point, I had a brainwave. Not too far from me there are 3 railway viaducts all meeting in a single place. That place is remote enough for my purposes and in kicking distance of the various transport links that make it an exciting place to set part of the story. So, in the interest of some proper research I went along - with the family - to explore the place. I hadn't been there before, just having seen pictures, and I was wowed. In fact, my mutterings to myself mostly consisted of 'this is perfect. Perfect. Ah, look there. I could land an alien transporter there nicely...' and other such mad offerings.

And this is one of the beautiful things about using familiar settings for science fiction and fantasy. There is nothing like actually seeing a place, hearing the birds that sing, knowing how wet it is underfoot, seeing the actual dimensions, to make it come real. When I come to write the scenes, hopefully tomorrow, or maybe today, they will be with the sense of place that I love to capture and that makes my little devasted Norn Iron come alive.

Here, then, is my new encampment. Imagine, if you will, this, two years since any council has tidied the land, in an empty landscape where life is tough. Imagine how bare survival might be. And then think what my dark little mind might do to it. Creativity magic, frankly. And that magic is why I love to set my stories where I do, finding the small hidden gems instead of the grand setting, and making it come alive.