That’s all research is really. I love people watching anyway, and I am addicted to snatches of other people’s conversations. I like to imagine an ‘end’ to their stories.
Obviously my ending would include vampires, werewolves and romance, but hey – it’s all good fun.
I don’t really do research for my characters themselves, unless I am writing a flash back to a different time in history. I always research the clothes, and the way of life in the relevant period, but the people themselves are purely imagination. Although the people-watching is a help of course. In Renegades there are a couple of stroppy teenagers, and it helps having known a few!
Fledgling is set in my favourite part of North London – Highgate. It’s a leafy, elegant area, close to Hampstead Heath, and is home to the famous and spectacular Highgate Cemetery. There are probably more millionaires per square mile in Highgate and Hampstead than anywhere else in England – with the possible exception of Alderley Edge in Cheshire, where a lot of famous footballers live!
Finding a house in Highgate for Will, my aristocratic three-hundred and thirty-six-year-old vampire, was a lot of fun. I spent many sunny afternoons walking around Highgate, looking at the beautiful Georgian houses, taking photographs, and imagining a secretive vampire living behind any one of the lovely historic facades.
Of course Google is a dream come true for most writers; everything you could ever need at your fingertips. I managed to find out the value of Georgian properties in Highgate, and have now officially given up any hope of ever living in one!
I walked around Highgate Cemetery many times too, taking notes and surreptitious photographs (they charge an exorbitant fee to take a camera in.) Thank goodness for smartphones with cameras. As a North Londoner, I know the areas in Fledgling pretty well, although places can change frighteningly fast, so it still made sense to revisit some of them. For instance, Jack Straw’s Castle, once a famous, historic inn, is now exclusive apartments, and the beautiful Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath is closed for the whole of 2012 for renovations. Luckily, Renegades, the sequel to Fledgling, is set in 2005, otherwise I wouldn’t have had my ideal wedding venue!