Naming places and people in my novels
Cambridge inspired me to write the Cambridge Murder Mysteries. I wanted to write for those people who live in Cambridge and love it like I do. I also wanted to be able to dig deeper and learn more about the city myself. All the iconic and notable buildings and locations make such an impression on both local and tourist.
I had to make some tough decisions. At first I wanted to write about the Colleges that exist in Cambridge, because I am so in awe of them. I also realized that my novels in this series are so unrealistic – being murder mystery genre – that it would probably be fine to use the real College names, as no one would believe that what happened in my books would really happen in the real colleges.
But thinking again, and realizing there are reasons why writers don’t use real places sometimes, I decided to change the names to make up fictional colleges, which would just be inspired by the real ones. So, the colleges in my novels are entirely made up. It is important for me to clarify this, as it is important that anything I write is seen as fiction, and not what happens in the actual ‘real’ colleges.
I have kept street names, so for those people who know Cambridge, they can imagine the fictional colleges where actual colleges might be. This enables me to keep the feel of Cambridge city centre, which is so important, given I base the murder mysteries in this beautiful location. So I want people to be able to picture the streets, avenues, parks and other places.
I have kept real pub names. This is out of respect for great places to drink! I’d like to think that perhaps if someone reads my book(s), they might go and visit, if they feel so inclined. Cambridge has the best pubs! (I am biased, I know). Characters may pop in for a drink and meet in these pubs in the novel(s). No one has been murdered in a pub yet, but if they are, I will make up that pub name and it won't be one of Cambridge's beloved pubs (out of respect to the real pubs and not wanting readers to think they are dangerous places!)
There are also some real restaurants I mention as well. Places I like to go and have known and feel are landmarks. For the same reason, if anything like a poisoning happens in a restaurant I make up the name and that restaurant does not exist in real life. Again, this is to protect any real business reputation.
None of the characters in the book(s) are based on anyone in any of the colleges in real life either. They are completely from my own imagination.
Sometimes people ask – friends – if I will put them in my books. I have to say no. First, I’d hate to ever upset anyone. What I might find amusing, someone else might find insulting! Also, I write fiction for the very reason that I like making stuff up. If I wanted to write about real people I’d be writing biographies. So, no, there are no characters based on any real people I have ever met, not will there be. They are all a mash of influences and ideas. I hope you like them. If you think you see someone you know in the book. Then that’s just your imagination working overtime ;)
Finally, Cambridge is the main character in my book(s). I cannot stress enough that I put in locations, places only with the deepest respect. I revere the city. The same goes for the university. It has given me so much, and I believe is the best academic institution in the world! I hold it with such fondness and affection, and always will.