Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Post: Location, Location, Location by KD Grace

I had very powerful and gorgeous geological inspiration for my novel, Body Temperature and Rising. It, along with the whole Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy, is set in the English Lake District. It’s no secret that I’m totally in love with the place. Most of the locations in the trilogy are real places that I’ve walked and explored while there. However those real experiences in the landscape also inspired the ‘Magicscapes’ in the story.

Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify for my American readers just what a fell is, since there seems to be a bit of a language barrier, and some people have thought that the fells are woodlands. A fell is an upland stretch of open countryside, a moor or a barren or stony hill. And the fells in the Lake District are formidable. They include Scafell Pike the highest mountain in England! The word comes from Middle English and Old Norse and means mountain or hill. There! Language barrier crossed!

There are lots of places that inspired BTR I could talk about, all fascinating, all playing roles in the novel, all making my imagination race with ideas for more Lakeland stories. However, since I’m the happy guest on the fabulous Ravynhart site today, I would like to talk about one of the places that inspired some of the creepiest, most sinister, most magical scenes in the book, and even a scene of sex magic al fresco gone wrong. The Place is called Raven Crag. It’s on Thirlmere Reservoir in the Central Fells, not far the town of Keswick.
I’ve only walked it once with a friend of mine who works for Keswick Mountain Rescue. We walked it because the weather was bad and the visibility on the higher fells was not good. I don’t know how many walks I’ve done in the Lake District, but I’ve climbed at least a hundred fells, and Raven Crag is the first and only fell walk that I found truly creepy. The ascent up Raven Crag is a gentle ascent, and yet it feels heavy and thick, almost like one has stepped into another dimension. It’s a walk through dense dark evergreen forest, treacherous under foot because of masses of thick gnarled tree roots, exposed above ground. When we made our ascent several of us took spills because the roots were slick from rain.  

A little way from the top there’s a place where the trees give way to high grass and bog, which rises to a hill with earthworks where there used to be an Iron Age fort, though nothing is left now but the view of the beck running below. The bog, the dark thick forest, the mist that seemed always to be just waiting to descend made the whole walk seem other-worldly and silent. Knowing that I was writing Body Temperature and Rising at the time and that the hero in the novel, Tim Meriwether, also volunteers for Keswick Mountain Rescue, Brian was keen on telling some of the stories of rescues that he’d taken part in on Raven Crag. He pointed out one of the darker, danker parts of the wood where walkers had stumbled onto the body of a man who had disappeared several years before - a possible suicide. The team had been sent in to retrieve the corpse. The thing about Raven Crag is that it doesn’t feel like a crag at all. It’s too claustrophobic, too tight-fitting. It’s an easy ascent, not steep, and there’s no scrambling. However there’s only one way up, unless you’re a climber. At the top of the fell, the trees open up onto a precipitous cliff. Though it’s frequented by rock climbers, it’s also a suicide spot. Voila! I had the perfect location for sinister paranormal activity.
By the time we descended, back the same way we came, I found myself wondering if I was creeped out because of the stories Brian had shared or just because the place was spooky.  

Later, as I researched Raven Crag, one of my best sources of information was Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. The guide to the Central Fells was written in 1958 by the man who knew the fells probably better than anyone else alive. His pictorial guides are not only still the definitive guides to the fells but are also exquisite works of art. Wainwright had this to say about Raven Crag. ‘The silence and gloom of the forest are too oppressive to be enjoyed. In the mist, the final stages of the ascent (no path) are dangerous.’

If Raven Crag creeped out Britain’s best-loved fell walker, then I figured there really was something spooky about the place, and it wasn’t just me.

The moral of the story is location, location, location. The Lake District offered me inspiration for everything from hot scenes of sex al fresco, to cave sex, to abandoned slate mines to creepy magical places for demon encounters, to glorious spring days with hawthorn in bloom and black birds in full song. It was the inspiration of such a rich and varied place that made the Lakeland Heatwave trilogy come alive in my imagination and made the magic seem so believable that I almost expected to read in one of Wainwright’s guide books about a chance encounter on Maiden Moor with a mysterious man in a vintage black suit.

Thanks again for having me on Ravynhart and for reminding me of the places that inspire me.
American transplant to the Lake District, MARIE WARREN, didn’t know she could unleash demons and enflesh ghosts until a voyeuristic encounter on the fells ends in sex with the charming ghost, ANDERSON, and night visits from a demon. To help her cope with her embarrassing and dangerous new abilities, Anderson brings her to the ELEMENTALS, a coven of witches who practice rare sex magic that temporarily allows needy ghosts access to the pleasures of the flesh.
DEACON, the demon Marie has unleashed, holds an ancient grudge against TARA STONE, coven high priestess, and will stop at nothing to destroy all she holds dear. Marie and her landlord, the reluctant young farmer, TIM MERIWETHER, are at the top of his list. Marie and Tim must learn to wield coven magic and the numinous power of their lust to stop Deacon’s bloody rampage before the coven is torn apart and more innocent people die.
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K D Grace was born with a writing obsession. It got worse once she actually learned HOW to write. There's no treatment for it. It's progressive and chronic and quite often interferes with normal, everyday functioning. She might actually be concerned if it wasn't so damned much fun most of the time.

K D's critically acclaimed erotic romance novels, The Initiation of Ms Holly, The Pet Shop and Lakeland Heatwave Book 1: Body Temperature and Rising are published by Xcite Books and are available from all good paperback and eBook retailers.

Her erotica has been published with Xcite Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Harper Collins Mischief Books, Black Lace, Erotic Review, Ravenous Romance, Sweetmeats Press and Scarlet Magazine.

Find out more about K D Grace on her website, She's also on Facebook and Twitter.

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