Exploring my book’s location

Firstly, a special announcement: I’m starting a book club with some fellow authors Alice Oseman, Catherine Doyle, Louise O’Neill and Sara Barnard!  Not just any old book club. A book club for our favourite books. The books that changed our lives. The books that made us.

Each of us has picked the three books that are the most important to us as writers and as humans. We’ll all be reading one per month, and at the end of the month, posting on Tumblr a few comments on the book and how/why we think it’s so important to the author who chose it.

You are very welcome to join us and read along! It’d be great to hear some thoughts on the monthly book either on Twitter or on Tumblr. This month’s book is Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, chosen by me. If you’re interested, you can read all fifteen of our choices and more about us here.

Okay, onto the post!


Back in June I went to Carlisle, a location in my book! I chose Carlisle as a location because it was the last castle to be sieged in England, during the 1745 Jacobite uprising. My book takes place during the siege, so the castle is an important location in the story. I wanted to visit to see what it was like today.

It was really strange, because I’ve spent so much time writing about this place I kind of felt like I’d made it up in my head. It was really valuble for my writing, not only because I can add more accuracy in terms of the layout and distance of the city, but there’s lots of little details that inspired me for extra things that can happen!

Here are some photos I took, of a house near the cathedral which is how I imagine Katherine’s home.


The castle as it is now.


The battlements where Things Happen, and the view where the Jacobites attacked, which is now a children’s playground.



A room in the castle where meetings and traumatic Things Happen, with A Queen sampersands on her throne.


Me at the town square sitting on steps where Matthew and Katherine sit and more Things Happen. Bagpipes were playing there and it was so nice.


We also went to the biggesttumblr_n7ksnglLJq1qa24muo9_r1_1280 secondhand bookshop I have ever seen, it was four stories and spread through a huge basement system and it was incredible.

It was a great day, and hopefully only the first time I’ll get to visit a location from my writing!

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including Green Rising, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. She is a RLF Royal Fellow, freelance editor and screenwriter. Lauren is the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and on the board of the Authors & Illustrators Sustainability Working Group through the Society of Authors. Her books have sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide and been translated into six languages. The Quiet at the End of the World was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and STEAM Children’s Book Award. Her other novels include The Next Together series, the dyslexia-friendly novella series The Watchmaker and the Duke and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. She was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2022. She has taught creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands.

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