Editing has begun on my latest YA novel, Blood Born, and after spending a week in Whitby immersing myself in the town where the book is set, I have my red pen at the ready, and I’m raring to go.
There’s something magical about standing in the same spot your character stands and exploring the area looking for those quirky little details. Not every nugget of information has made it into the story, but they certainly bring it to life in my eyes.
There were plenty of visitors taking photographs of the Whale Bone Arch on the West Cliff, but I was more interested in making sure the bench off to the left made it into the shot! There are a few pivotal scenes in the book that takes place on that very bench.
Whitby is a gorgeous seaside town in Yorkshire with a picturesque harbour. It’s divided in two by the River Esk. The East Side, where you’ll find Whitby Abbey, was the founding site of the town as far back as 656 AD.
The West Side is a holiday-makers dream with plenty of coffee shops, fish and chip restaurants, fun works, and boat trips. It’s also here that Bram Stoker, author of one of my favourite books, Dracula, stayed in a guest house on Royal Crescent in the 19th century. It was during his stay that he felt inspired to include Whitby in his novel as the town where Dracula was shipwrecked.
The East Side is where you’ll find the more rustic buildings, cobbled streets, tightly packed independent stores and cottages, and the 199 steps leading up to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey ruins on the clifftop.
The graveyard of St Mary’s is open to the elements, and on my first visit of the week, I was thankful for the heavy walking boots I wore. It felt like they were the only things keeping me anchored to the ground! The graves are weathered and dark, but the stones nestled out of the wind have visible inscriptions. I also found the gravestone with the mysterious skull and crossbones carved into the side – does the grave contain a genuine pirate? Who knows? Perhaps that’s a story for another time!
Whitby Abbey is an English Heritage site of which I’m a member, so once I’d booked my ticket online, I was able to explore the ruins at my leisure. I got a few funny looks as I peered over the stone walls surrounding the Abbey searching for the cottage that appears in my novel. Although it’s a fictitious building, I was hoping to find a suitable farm that would be the right fit – and I did! When faced with the atmospheric ruins, I’m sure it must have looked strange to see a middle-aged woman hanging over a wall taking snaps of the farm next door!!
Visiting out of season (and during a pandemic!) meant the grounds were quiet with fewer people out exploring, which makes for beautiful photographs. I loved seeing the ruins up close. The stonework is impressive, and despite the winds roaring across the open spaces, the entire area was peaceful.
In the museum, I got to see a signed first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in a glass case. That was something quite special. I then bought myself a vampire bat keychain, obvs!
Blood Born is book one of the Immortal Series, so I’m sure I’ll need to return to Whitby and the surrounding area again as I begin writing the second novel. For now, I’ll flick through the photographs I took, reminisce over the blustery beaches, and get stuck into the edits so I can share Emma’s story with you all.
Find out more about Whitby Abbey here: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/whitby-abbey/
In the meantime, you can check out my other YA titles on my publishers website here: https://www.bhcpress.com/Author_SL_Wilson.html