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Nick Jones blog posts

Building Castles In The Air

The Shropshire Stalker by Nick Jones

Where the building you need for your plot doesn’t exist, build it yourself, says author Nick Jones.


For nearly 20 years I lived in central London, working as an architectural journalist. Buildings, you might say, are in my DNA (though I have to confess I feel no great affinity for the capital’s showy 21st century monoliths, such as The Shard or the Walkie-Talkie).

My latest novel is a psychological thriller set in rural Shropshire. It features some fine old buildings, many of them architectural gems, such as the 17th century black-and-white coaching inn in Ludlow, The Feathers Hotel. This small market town has been described by no less an authority than Sir John Betjeman as ‘probably the loveliest town in England.’ Last summer, I haunted its quaint narrow back streets to get the right atmosphere for the novel. Basic ground work like this – rather than internet research –  invariably pays off. I am always armed with a camera and a notebook.

The latter stages of my …

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Writing dialogue: the voices in my head

Nick Jones

In the very early stages of plotting my ghost story ‘King’s Cross’, I realised what an important part authentic dialogue would have to play. The novel features a diverse collection of characters: nuns, mini-cab drivers, firemen and a feisty Lolita-like teenager named Alice (who has some of the book’s best lines).

Would Alice say: ‘I don’t know.’ Or ‘Dunno.’? Almost certainly the latter. Would a mini-cab driver ask a fare (on being offered a £20 note): ‘Haven’t you got anything smaller?’ or ‘Ain’t yer got nothin’ smaller?’ Probably the latter. Drafting dialogue at one’s computer is all very well, but it can be time-consuming. And though most writers carry a notebook in order to scribble down their thoughts, trying to jot down a bon mot, when you’re driving the kids to school, can be dangerous! 

So I began to develop the technique of ‘rehearsing’ these exchanges in my head, usually when I was out and about doing something mundane like …

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