Writing the Dartmoor Novel

I suppose – given my connections with Dartmoor (the Moor, not the Prison) – that it was inevitable that I’d write a novel set there. I’ve featured the Moor a lot in my non-fiction books, written loads of magazine articles about the place, not to mention the TV and radio broadcasts. I also spent nine years as CEO of the Dartmoor Preservation Association – one of Britain’s oldest pressure groups. It’s a while now since I’ve walked the old Moor, and it’s interesting to revisit it in my imagination.

The new book doesn’t have a title as yet, but it’s a sequel to my thriller Balmoral Kill, set in 1937, and features my series character Sean Miller. That book’s been out a few years now and I thought it was about time I brought Sean Miller back. If you’ve read Balmoral Kill, you’ll know that Sean was heading back to Spain to fight in the Civil War. Let’s just say he gets diverted along the way.

As so often before, I started this book with the Dartmoor landscape in mind as a setting and not much else. I usually start with a setting and a character. The plot (I hate the word PLOT) comes later.

Apart from a few invented houses, I’m determined that my Dartmoor novel will be accurate to landscape. So accurate that readers who want to will be able to follow in Sean’s footsteps, walking every inch of the moorland scenes where the action takes place.

I’ve already written about Wistman’s Wood, where the story starts. Today I had Sean walking up the Dartmoor road from Ashburton. I’m not only writing about these places from my memory, I’m imagining them as they might have been 81 years ago. Actually, not a lot has changed.

Being a thriller there’ll be lots of action. Rather fun to disturb the peace and quiet of Dartmoor now and again. Oh yes, Dartmoor Prison will feature in Sean’s adventuring. How could I leave it out?

Dartmoor has featured in a fair bit of literature in the past. It’s where Sherlock Holmes pursues the Hound of the Baskervilles. There’ve been literary novelists too. Eden Phillpotts Dartmoor novels are well worth a read – the best of them up there with Thomas Hardy. I have always intended to set a novel on Dartmoor. Now is the time.

The book will be out in the summer, then I’ll be working on the next William Quest adventure. And if you haven’t yet read Balmoral Kill – out in paperback and as an eBook – here’s a link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Balmoral-Kill-Sean-Miller-Adventure-ebook/dp/B00Q8I7LGO/ref=sr_1_17?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1548082038&sr=1-17&keywords=John+Bainbridge