In the May issue of Writers Forum, Anita Loughrey interviewed me about how the research for my novel, Owl Song at Dawn, led me to fall in love with Morecambe, a town I had never previously visited.
My main characters insisted that they came from this northern seaside resort. I did try to relocate my novel to my hometown of Birkenhead. But, Maeve and Edie – twin sisters born in 1933, one who is fêted as the cleverest girl in town and the other who is diagnosed as ‘severely subnormal’ – refused to morph their Lancashire dialects into Scouse.
The more I researched, including very enjoyable stays in Yacht Bay View, the clearer it felt to me that my characters could not come from anywhere else. Morecambe’s history parallels my heroine’s own: the glamour of the 1950s, the grim neglect of the 80s and today’s glimmers of hope.
I had been writing and visiting Morecambe for some time before the reason why I might have been so drawn to it finally dawned on me. My sister had spent a few years at Beaumont College in Lancaster – a college for people with cerebral palsy and associated disabilities – and they used to take trips to the seaside. On some subconscious level, Morecambe is a town that I associate with my sister and her disabilities: a welcoming place where she experienced the happiest of times.
You can now take a look at the full feature here: Research Secrets – Emma Claire Sweeney