The locations in The Next Together

Last time I posted, I had just found out that my American publishers, Egmont US, have closed down. I tried to sound positive but it had got me down quite a bit. However, I’ve got lots of wonderful people looking after me, and being very positive, so I’m a lot less upset about the whole thing now. I really hope that there’s still chance for The Next Together to be published in the USA, but either way, I’ve got the best UK publisher I could have hoped for, so I’m very very lucky!

Thank you to everyone for your kind messages, it really has helped. ❤

Anyway, I wanted to post about something a little more upbeat, so I’m going to talk about my favourite thing ever, my book. The Next Together has three interwoven storylines, all of which take place at different points in time and space.

It took a lot of research (translation: a lot of googling and wikipedia) to make sure I got the details at least nearly right. I take a kind of ‘A Knight’s Tale‘ view on historical accuracy, meaning I’ll give it a go, but if gets in the way of a good joke or a Queen-soundtracked montage, I’ll purposefully ignore it.

So these are a few of my . . . many, many locations, as a kind of primer for The Next Together.

Carlisle, England, 1745

Most of the action takes place at the castle during the Jacobite uprising of 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie persuaded the Scottish Highlanders to help him invade England, in an attempt to win back the throne. It resulted in an English victory, and Bonnie Prince Charlie retreated with his tail between his legs. What was interesting to me was that the Uprising featured the last ever siege of an English castle: at Carlisle, a city on the English-Scottish border. It looked something like this:


Nowadays it looks like this:


I visited Carlisle and the castle last year, and wrote a blog post about it.

One third of my novel takes place during that last invasion of an English castle, at a time which I romantically like to think of as the exact dividing point between ‘modern’ warfare (bombs and airplanes) and ‘medieval’ warfare (castles and cannons and knights in shining armour).

Imagine a couple dressed as servants, cleaning cannons and not-so-surreptitiously checking each other out. That’s my book.

There’s also a lot of action at the family house, which I imagine to look something like this:


Main points of interest:

  • dusty stables full of dozing horses and nooks and crevices for secret make out sessions.
  • a shy little boy who is never seen but leaves intricate toy battles in his wake
  • secret passages
  • an amazing library with creaky leather sofas. perfect for  getting relationship advice and hugs from a greying gentle uncle. selection of scottish whiskeys.
  • bedrooms with views looking out over the city wall, mist rolling in off the hills, some kind of birds nest in the eaves outside the window, noisy in the morning and feathers and mess on the windowsill

Crimea, 1854

None of this is going to be in the slightest way historically accurate, but who cares, LET’S DO IT.  A hefty chuck of the book takes place at the beginning of the Crimean war of 1854, which was a war between Russia and England/ France/the Ottoman Empire. It was basically a big old fight over territories, as usual. It was a pretty iconic war- the one Florence Nightingale nursed in, the first to use telegrams and proper bombs, and the war that coined the phrase ‘the thin red line’, referring to the sight of the Russian soldiers in the distance.

It was also the first time a journalist travelled to the actual front, so reports and articles were really accurate and got to England very fast. This journalism revealed the huge ineptness of the English generals, including how badly run the hospitals were, which was one of the things that inspired Florence Nightingale to gather up her ladies and head to the front to nurse.

My main character, Matthew, takes the place of that first journalist, William Russell. The first half of the book takes place on the journey to Gallipoli, so here’s what I imagine the ship to look like:


Decks full of bored, smoking soldiers, playing cards and arguing over rum rations. Owls get stuck in the rigging a lot. Not much to do except flirt, discuss politics, learn shorthand, fall in love, &c.

Then when they get to the front, there’s some Florence Nightingale-esque hospital stuff, but the actual battlefield will look like this:


Points of interest:

  • vineyard with lots of squidgy grapes underfoot, kind of gross
  • flowing river
  • ramshackle old cottage that’s kind of on fire
  • guns
  • fighting

Okayyyyy, that’s enough history. Modern plotlines.

Central Science Laboratory, 2019

A Biology research lab is a major setting, which looks something like this:



  • hip young scientists, everyone pulling pranks and joking around
  • lots of science gets done probably
  • whiteboard where people tend to just draw dicks until there’s a lab tour and it’s replaced with a quick sketch of some vague aromatic molecule
  • all these things might possibly be based on my lab
  • there are a lot of lunchtime hookups in the offices because half the lab is married to each other and there’s a secret signal that everyone knows means you probably shouldn’t interrupt that ‘meeting’
  • that part is unfortunately not accurate to my lab

I have a lot more headcanon about this lab but…..SPOILERS. It looks a bit like this sometimes, anyway.

University of Notttingham campus, 2039

In one storyline my characters are just starting university, studying Biology. I based it at the University of Nottingham, mainly because I went there and I’m a proud alumni. The campus looks like this:


Matt’s room:


  • lots of stephen king books
  • bed is a double: important!!!!!
  • he’s pretty messy
  • has a dedicated supply of snacks probably
  • also a collection of cutlery stolen from the caf that he feels continuously guilty about
  • no like it probably keeps him up at night sometimes
  • has a communal bathroom which is always full of very judgy neighbours

An Important Loft:


Messy, lots of christmas decorations and boxes. There is probably a lot of broken glass on the floor, but neatly pushed into a pile.

Okay, I think those are about all my locations! I hope this was a little interesting, and tells you something about what my book is like!

THE NEXT TOGETHER, a reincarnation romance, comes out in September. You can add it on goodreads, preorder on amazon, or you can subscribe to my mailing list for updates nearer the time here

A rebloggable version of this post can be found here. 

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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