Words leave imprints in your mind like footprints in the sand...
beach reading
starry skies to read under
reading in nature

Samuel Burr takes us to locations in The Puzzlemakers

  • Submitted: 19th April 2024

 Samuel Burr takes us to locations in The Puzzlemakers

Puzzle No Longer – You need all the pieces of this puzzle before you see the full picture, right? Well, Samuel Burr has created a mini tour of his novel’s locations. See if they help solve the mystery within….

Locations in The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers

Puzzle book set in London

Locations in The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers

Why is the book set in Marston – Moretaine?

The Fellowship’s HQ – Creighton Hall – is set in the small, picturesque village of Marston-Moretaine in Bedfordshire.

The entrance to Moreteyne Manor in the village (Creighton Hall is ficitonal)

Readers who aren’t from this part of the world might wonder where they’ve heard this name before. It’s probably from the newspaper/TV coverage of the late Sir Captain Tom’s charitable walk. At the peak of Covid-19, Sir Captain Tom – aged 99 – raised £32 million for the NHS by pledging to walk 100 laps of his garden in Marston-Moretaine. There was something about Captain Tom’s refusal to put his feet up, to keep doing good right up until the end of his life, that made me feel it was an appropriate place for the Puzzlemakers to make their home.

Centre of the village:

I guess, in that sense, it’s a kind of tribute to the man. For more logistical reasons, I also chose this particular part of the world to base The Fellowship’s HQ because I wanted somewhere commutable to London – so that Clayton, my protagonist, could venture to the city and back without much fuss!

Locations in The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers

This Creighton Hall is in Alnwick

Did you go to the place in real life to research?

‘You have a very beautiful home,’ Jasmine remarked. ‘It’s like something out of a fairy tale.’Pippa turned to look at the house: the turrets and the stone facades, the arch-style windows and the tall brick chimneys that sat slightly squiffy on the roof. She couldn’t agree more. Living at Creighton Hall was, in itself, a kind of fairy tale.

Samuel Burr

I grew up in Bedfordshire, so I’m very familiar with the place, but to be honest, beyond the mention of the name when they first arrive at Creighton Hall, it is barely mentioned again in the book. The Puzzlemakers rarely step foot out of the house, and this was deliberate. I really wanted to build a world within a world, to create a home so enticing, immersive and almost magical, that readers (and Clayton himself!) wouldn’t want to leave it.

London and the first location:

Locations in The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers

How else did you research location and setting?

I did take a foreign trip for research purposes, but I can’t say more than that without giving away spoilers…!

Locations in The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers

Perhaps the best puzzlemakers HQ in the world! – (MI6)

Can you tell us more about the setting/location in your book?

London also plays a big part in this book. When Clayton’s goes on his quest, it’s the capital that Pippa sends him to first. I live in (East) London and, like so many other residents here, sometimes forget quite how magical this city is. I love London because of its diversity, its history and its vibrancy. There is always something exciting happening and I wanted Clayton to experience this as he took his first steps outside the Fellowship. At the beginning of the book he doesn’t like to think about his future without the Puzzlemakers in it, but soon the city reveals itself and Clayton’s future suddenly looks brighter. He meets new people, makes new friends and develops new passions away from Creighton Hall.

Locations in The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers

South Beds Golf Club

Are the settings all real or imagined?

A little bit of both. I sometimes get nervous writing scenes in real locations because I don’t want to be restricted by tedious things like floor plans or whether a (real) building has a functioning elevator or if there’s stairs leading to the front steps that I might have forgotten about. For this reason, I sometimes blend a bit of real world with a fictional place when composing a scene. As an example, my Puzzlemakers attend a gala dinner at a local golf club in the book. I used to go to a real golf club in Luton called the South Beds Golf Club (for family celebrations etc, never to play golf!), but in the book the Puzzlemakers turn up at the Mid-Beds Golf Club. It felt like a nice nod to my family tradition, without upsetting any golfers who might decide to write to me about factual inaccuracies!

Locations in The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers

Where in real life do you recommend readers travel to in order to ‘see’ their book?

Jump on a bus in London and see how many real world puzzles you can spot! As Clayton points out in the book, ‘Puzzles are everywhere, not just at Creighton Hall.’ I’m particularly fond of the maze motifs printed on the walls of London Underground stations and, of course, the hedgerow maze at Hampton Court.

Locations in The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers

And please tell us more about the puzzles and the idea behind that?

I knew I wanted to write a novel with a mystery at its heart, and the idea of infusing puzzles into prose was something I couldn’t stop thinking about, so I had to write it! The original inspiration probably came from television, like so many of my ideas! I remember watching a documentary on BBC Four years ago about professional crossword compilers and being so charmed by this very niche and exclusive world. I love the idea of people – of a certain age – who have committed their lives to having fun, taking something so intrinsically ‘fun’ and making it a very serious profession.

 

Such a mysterious novel. Thank you so much for this insightful trail!

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers

Twitter: @samuelburr 

Instagram: @samuelburr/

Back to Authorsonlocation

Featured Book

The Wren in the Holly Library

2000s: A dark, spicy romantasy loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast

Read more