I spent my first weeks in England photographing doors. And pubs. And – most especially – trees. Huge specimen trees Capability Brown would recognise, and most certainly approve of. For someone coming from quieter, more regimented, and altogether “greyer” East Germany, these trees were as fascinating as houses that showed off highly individualistic front doors.
All these images were taken with a camera, on film, and subsequently developed, printed and stuck in an album. I don’t look at them nearly often enough, but some of them still guide my choices when it comes to finding places for my characters to live, work, and play.
Gareth Flynn, from The Power of Zero series, lives in Richmond. His partner Jack has a restored Victorian terraced house in Clapham. Not just because I know the area a little, but also because the route between Clapham and Richmond (or rather one of them) leads through Richmond Park… which has some stunning trees!
When Aidan Conrad, the legal brains of the Power of Zero books, turned up and introduced himself, I knew that I wanted him to have chambers at the Inns of Court. And since I’d only ever walked around the outside but never through what is effectively a city within a city, I had to plan a trip to go and check it out.
The Inns of Court developed in the late 1300s. They’re the professional associations for barristers in England and every barrister in England belongs to one of the Inns of Court. There are four Inns: Lincoln’s Inn, Middle Temple, Inner Temple, and Gray’s Inn. Each Inn has a chapel, gardens, dining hall, and chambers for its resident barristers and training facilities for students.
You step through the gate and you’re suddenly somewhere else. The Inns of Court have a vibe that’s more Oxford college than the sharp edge of the legal profession. It’s quaint, and quirky. The whole area feels as serene as a cloister and I could imagine Aidan just fine! 🙂
The image on the left is where I’ve placed Aidan’s chambers. To the right is the undercroft at Lincoln’s Inn and I have a lovely scene in my head that’s set right there, late at night during a thunderstorm. I could also imagine it being just the setting for a lovely murder mystery and…. someone catch that plot bunny!
From the Inns of Court, we headed around the corner to the Royal Courts of Justice. That would be one of the places Aidan would be working. It’s very Victorian, all high vaulted ceilings, stately columns, gorgeous tile and acres of mellow wooden floorboards. It’s a working court house, but it’s open to visitors and once we’d passed the security check we could wander around and look to our hearts’ content. Photography isn’t allowed inside, but I have plenty of notes to keep me going…
So if you ever wanted to know where Aidan works… now you do!
And if there’s a place in one of my stories that you can’t picture… just ask!