we welcome Clare Chase to the blog.

I’ve always found novels with a strong sense of place
compelling, and been fascinated by the powerful effect setting can have on an
unfolding story. Of course, it’s a crucial aspect of all forms of fiction, but
where suspense is involved, the right setting can help the writer in all sorts
of ways.
A character’s immediate surroundings – the house they
live in, for instance – can point to a person who’s off balance. Suspense
builds as the reader anticipates the effect their skewed world view might have
on developments. You don’t have to go as far as Dickens went with Miss Havisham
to introduce unease.
Wider setting is also a huge bonus when creating mood
and tension. Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica
comes to mind. Mary Yellan’s awful journey in appalling weather, from
her familiar village, to the remote moorland home of her aunt and uncle, remains
vivid. The reader is immediately sucked into a threatening and oppressive
And then there are the physical practicalities of a
location. Because Mary’s geographically so far away from help, and the
landscape around her is so harsh and unforgiving, we’re intensely conscious of
her isolation.
In my own debut novel, You Think You Know Me, I used two locations: London and the Lake
When the novel begins, Anna, the heroine, has just
moved to the capital. London was a good location on practical grounds. It
allowed her plenty of glamorous opportunities to pursue her career as a
freelance journalist, and was a realistic setting for a story focussed on crime
in the art world. But beyond the practical, it was also perfect in terms of atmosphere.
I love the bustle of London, the frenetic pace, the crowds and the buzz. And as
Anna’s caught up in a passionate love affair, pulled along by excitement,
uncertainty and the first hints of danger, this pacey backdrop worked.
And then, as the mystery deepens, her desire to find
out the truth leads her to the Lakes. You
Think You Know Me
is set in winter, and Anna finds herself driving through
dark, deserted lanes, caught in torrential rain, her mobile dropping in and out
of coverage. I’m always staggered by the beauty of the area when I visit, but
on dark, stormy days, the awe-inspiring masses of mountains like Skiddaw and
Blencathra become menacing. The hairpin bends, steep inclines and the
narrowness of the roads mean any escape is going to have to happen at an
agonisingly slow pace. What’s more, there are plenty of places where there’s no
mobile coverage at all, so calling for help can be tantalisingly out of reach.
My next novel is the start of a mystery series, and
has a Cambridge setting. I find the city endlessly intriguing, but realise
there are dangers with writing about somewhere I know well. I need to make sure
I can still see what’s unique about the city, even though I’ve become an
insider. Luckily, Cambridge is full of surprises, and sometimes things that
shock, so it’s not hard to see it afresh, even after all these years.
Clare Chase writes fast-paced romantic mysteries, inspired by what makes
people tick. She reads everything from Jilly Cooper to Sue Grafton, and finds
romance complements crime perfectly, doubling the intrigue.
Clare wrote dodgy whodunnits in primary school, read English at London
University, and honed her creative writing skills working in PR.
In her spare time, she enjoys drawing, cooking and wandering round the
pubs and galleries of Cambridge, where she lives with her husband and teenage
Twitter: @ClareChase_

Thank you, Clare!

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  1. Author
    Clare Chase 3 years ago

    Thank you so much for having me on the RNA blog, Elaine and Natalie – it’s really lovely to be here!

  2. Author
    Berni Stevens 3 years ago

    Fascinating post, Clare. I always love reading about the reasoning behind a plot! Good luck with your book – I loved it.

  3. Author
    Anonymous 3 years ago

    I really enjoyed this post. I always find a definite setting helps with atmosphere and character in my own writing, as well as letting me see the story unfold before me. I love both the Lakes and Cambridge. Mixed feelings about London, though. Good luck with your novel. It sounds intriguing.
    Rebecca Holmes

  4. Author
    Clare Chase 3 years ago

    Thanks so much for your kind comments, Berni and Rebecca.

  5. Author
    Margaret Kaine 3 years ago

    I haven't yet read your novel, Clare, but having read your interesting interview, it's definitely on my list to buy. Wishing you mega sales with it.

  6. Author
    Jane Lovering 3 years ago

    I love reading books with a great sense of place – it's like going on holiday without having to pack or make arrangements for the cat. Looking forward to reading your take on the Lakes, Clare!

  7. Author
    Clare Chase 3 years ago

    Thanks so much, Margaret and Jane. Good point about a hassle-free version of going on holiday! The sash windows give our house a rather al fresco feel, so I might hunt out a book set in the tropics…

  8. Author
    Rosie Dean 3 years ago

    I love the sense of place Daphne du Maurier gives.

    Even in fantasy, who could read any of the Harry Potter stories and not get a sense of Hogwarts or Diagon Alley?

    Good post.

  9. Author
    Clare Chase 3 years ago

    Thanks so much for your comment, Rosie – completely agree re Harry Potter!

  10. Author
    Sarah Waights 3 years ago

    I'm with Rosie on the Daphne du Maurier… my happiest day in years was floating down the very river du Maurier described in Frenchman's Creek (in a boat, obviously), reading the very same. The setting is like another major character in the book. Even a really well described and atmospheric house can anchor a book. Manderley is the classic example Oops, back to du Maurier again. Great post Clare. Best of luck with your book sales. I have it on my list. x

  11. Author
    Isabella Connor 3 years ago

    The setting is so important. If I can't identify with the location of a story, I'm afraid I will often give it a miss. Great subject, Clare.

  12. Author
    Clare Chase 3 years ago

    Thanks so much for your comments! I love Frenchman’s Creek – must have been perfect enjoying it in that situation, Sarah. And I’m really glad you liked the topic, Isabella! I feel just the same about setting.

  13. Author
    Sheryl Browne 3 years ago

    Oooh, wow! Well, it's certainly made me think more about how I can use location in my psychological thrillers, Clare. Thanks so much for the prompt! PS. Did I mention I love your cover? Fabulous post. Thanks, too, to the RNA for sharing.

  14. Author
    Clare Chase 3 years ago

    Thanks so much, Sheryl! I really love the cover too – I’m so grateful to the wonderful Berni Stevens for such a fantastic design!

  15. Author
    Karen Aldous 3 years ago

    A fab post Clare and I'm totally with you where a setting and sense of place is concerned. Your book does sound intriging and will go on my tbr list! Good luck xx

  16. Author
    Clare Chase 3 years ago

    Thanks so much for your good wishes, Karen! I'm really glad you like the sound of You Think You Know Me. I plan to treat myself to The Chateau, and love the sound of the locations you use! Xx

  17. Author
    Sue Fortin 3 years ago

    I always enjoy reading about settings I'm familiar with, it gives a real sense of being there.

    One of the reasons I'm really looking forward to reading your novel, Clare.


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