Thursday, 21 February 2013

Where do your characters live?

My Thursday challenge to myself is to click ‘Random Article’ in Wikipedia, and write about whatever article comes up first, and also link the topic in some way to writing.
Today’s article was about Nea Chalkidona, which apparently is a suburb of Athens, urbanised from farmlands and forests in the early to mid-20th century.
As I’ve never been to Athens, or even to Greece, I started to wonder what I could possibly write about this, until it occurred to me that this kind of urbanisation was happening in many places in the UK at the same time. The whole area where I live now was built in the 1930’s, and is typical of the suburbs of many of our cities and towns. The thirties was a decade of house building, helped by land being cheap and also by a huge demand for ‘smaller’ houses because of the shrinking family size. Mortgages were readily available and so a large proportion of the population were able to afford home ownership.
A large majority of the new homes were the traditional English ‘semi-detached’ houses, i.e. two houses joined together. Each had a living room, dining room and kitchen, and upstairs a bathroom and three bedrooms, one usually very small. They usually had a small garden in front, and a larger one behind.
They are a very familiar sight in the UK, and I hazard a guess that about 50% of the population today live in semi-detached homes.
All this led me to think about where the British characters in my books live. Do any of them live in semi-detached houses? The short answer is no! Well, maybe Jess and her friend Kathy shared such a house in ‘His Leading Lady’ but I didn’t actually describe it, and when Jess goes to London, she has an apartment in a converted Victorian house. Kyle, the hero, has a large Victorian house in the London suburbs—and also a renovated tower house in Scotland.
Although some of the small towns in the Lake District do have some semi-detached homes, I chose stone cottages for my heroines in ‘Fragrance of Violets’ and ‘Changing the Future’ as these are very typical of the area. In the former, the hero is living in a large stone house owned by his parents, and in the latter the hero is renting a single storey house on the outskirts of the town.
In ‘Her Only Option’, Neve’s father has a Victorian house in London, and in ‘Dream of Paris’ Anna shares an ‘old house’ with her friend.
I seem to be drawn more to the older houses, but maybe one day my characters will actually reside in what would be considered a very typical British house!
Do your characters live in a house similar to your own, or do you ‘invent’ something totally different for them?


  1. neat idea for a post. I like it. Like you, I always invent homes different than mine for my characters.

  2. Thanks, Jillian! I wonder if we are doing some wishful thinking when we 'invent' these homes for our characters!

  3. That's interesting. My characters usually live where I live or have lived. Sticking with what I know I suppose. :) I really liked this post. :)

  4. Mimi - none of my characters live where I live, although they may live in places I know well, like the English Lake District.

  5. My characters live where they need to in relation to their work. Innes, in Bagpipes & Bullshot, lives in a huge rundown Scottish Estate house. Finn, the chef hero in Reaching for the Stars, has a lovely Edinburgh townhouse.

    Interesting post, Paula!

    Janice xx

  6. You have an advantage, living in Scotland, Janice! The suburbs of Manchester don't conjure up anything as interesting as a Scottish estate or an Edinburgh townhouse!