Shot in the Dark in the New Forest with Anna Britton
Shot in the Dark – Anna Britton
Some authors have a definite location in mind when they come to write a novel. Some set their novel in their favourite place and others let the location find them – it depends on the story they are telling afterall.
Anna Britton wrote Shot in the Dark set in the New Forest – How did she come to set her novel there? Well, she’s here at BookTrail Towers to find out:
Originally, Shot in the Dark wasn’t set anywhere. Location isn’t something I feel strongly about – I’m more focused on the plot and characters. I did know that having a crime novel set in an unknown place was a problem, but I didn’t know how to fix it.
nter my brilliant agent, Saskia Leach of the Kate Nash Literary Agency. She took me on as a client even though my story was set in the middle of literally nowhere, and helped me to find the perfect setting.
We discussed several options. I live on the Isle of Wight, so this was Saskia’s first suggestion as I know it incredibly well and would be able to write about it with real clarity. However, this didn’t feel right. As much as I love this island, Shot in the Dark needed easy access to far more people and places than the Isle of Wight could offer.
We discussed Yorkshire and Sheffield, as I love this area. However, I wasn’t sure simply because I wouldn’t be able to afford research trips there and I didn’t want to get huge things wrong!
When Saskia mentioned Southampton and the New Forest, it instantly felt right. Shot in the Dark is set across a mixture of built-up and rural areas, and setting it in this area was perfect. The wildness of the New Forest set against the more urban areas in Southampton provided the perfect setting for this novel.
And thankfully, Southampton and the New Forest are areas I know well and find easy to pop across the water to visit. I’ve holidayed several times in the New Forest, so had a good sense of how to bring this area to life on the page.
A lot of my research was done online. There are a few key places in the book that have been photographed a great deal and this was so helpful when describing scenes. One is a Bronze Age barrow, which sits across the road from the (fictitious) Dunlow Estate. Another is the Southampton Harbour Hotel, which at the time I was researching had rolling slides of pictures on the home page.
Not all of the settings used in Shot in the Dark are real. All the homes of characters are made up. However, they are based on streets and estates found across Southampton and the New Forest. I felt that I wanted the freedom to create any home for my characters that I wanted. This way, I was still able to ground them of the reality of the setting I’d chosen.
Balmer Lawn hotel
If you’re up for immersing yourself in the location of Shot in the Dark, one of my favourite hotels in the New Forest is the Balmer Lawn. It has incredible food and from there you can lose yourself in the sprawling meadows and forests of the New Forest.
Gabe was sceptical that huge wild animals would be allowed to roam free around the countryside. She’s a London girl, so she didn’t believe that horses wander around the New Forest until she saw one. I know I’m just as amazed as she was whenever I stumble across them!
Many thanks Anna. Fascinating how you picked the location. Couldn’t imagine it set anywhere else!
BookTrail Boarding Pass: A Shot in the Dark