Early in the process of writing A Circle of Lost Sisters I faced what should have been a difficult choice: where to set the book. I knew my novel would not exist in an imagined land. I suspect my skills at world building are questionable and I wanted to stand on sure ground for my first novel. But the real question was which side of the Atlantic.
I grew up in the American Midwest but I have lived in Yorkshire for fourteen years, teaching students for eleven of those fourteen. I am not a native of Yorkshire but when I close my eyes I do not hear American voices, particularly not young American voices. I should have set my book in the cornfields of Iowa but in my honest heart I knew I could not pull it off. The only way for me to craft American dialogue would be to mimic from television and that felt false. I listen to real Yorkshire kids every day; I’m surrounded by them. My difficult choice was not really a choice at all.
And so The Fells was born.
My werewolves needed a big moorland landscape in which to roam. Rather than choose an existing area of Yorkshire I decided to invent one, that way nobody could contradict me about geographical details and I could freely construct a single setting which was an amalgamation of many beautiful places I have visited in this vast county. In the end, I did not give my werewolves one moor to frolic on, I gave them four fells, two rivers, a coastline and a forest.
In the first chapter, an unnamed boy and girl hike to a stone circle at the crest of Kirk Moor, the largest of my imaginary hills. My inspiration came from Ilkley Moor. Ingrid finds herself at the same stone circle in her sixth chapter.
As Ingrid ran the landscape sloped more and more steeply up-wards whilst also becoming more barren. Only the odd sheep broke up the endless expanse of what Ingrid knew would be green if her eyes could see it.
She was up on The Moors.
She had run five miles uphill in ten minutes! The shock of this realisation cut through her wild panic and she slowed down. Forceful gusts of fell wind made her fake (for now) blonde locks flap irritatingly around her falsely (for now) bronzed face.
The Fells included vast expanses of moorland broken up by small villages, stone walls and sheep.
A vague structure materialised in the distance and Ingrid knew where she was: The Stone Circle at the summit of Kirk Moor.
The Circle of the Lost Sister consisted of seven standing stones. Six stones stood in a wide but even formation which followed the roughly circular perimeter of the fell top. They varied in height as time and the forces of nature impacted each slightly differently. The largest was slightly over six feet high and the shortest was just shy of four foot.
Set far apart from the others outside the formation was a seventh standing stone: “The Lost Sister”. The final stone was larger than the others: over seven feet high and wider than an ancient oak. No doubt Historians, Archaeologists and Pagan Nutters had all sorts of theories as to why and how “The Lost Sister” became Lost. But Ingrid was not interested in contemplating the mysteries and meanings of the Stone Circle. At this moment it only meant death and blood and horror at her hands. She collapsed at the base of the Lost Sister.
Freya placed a steadying hand on her shoulder. Ingrid gripped the older girl’s wrist, pressing her hand more firmly against her own skin to gain the most comfort from Freya’s touch. Ingrid’s breathing became more even, her limbs stilled and her head cleared.
‘I’m sorry,’ Ingrid whispered.
‘I know,’ Freya replied.