Creating the World of Flammark in the supernatural thriller: When Angels Fear by Polly Mordant.
Flammark is the village setting in my supernatural thriller When Angels Fear. Its central character runs there in a desperate attempt to escape from her abusive partner. It was supposed to be a pin-in-a-map exercise, somewhere random where he couldn’t find her until she’d sorted her head out. Without offering any spoilers to the story, I think it’s fair to say that her intentions in this respect are an epic fail. The events that unfold do so while she’s at her lowest ebb, unable to work out the forces that are really at play in the village and how they affect her decisions. At the time of writing, I didn’t know I was also world-building. Flammark soon became like another character. It has a past—a history—steeped in both Celtic and Christian mythology. We see this first in the church which stands opposite Emma’s cottage. A whole chapter is dedicated to its description. It has Romanesque architecture, with distinctive corbels(see picture)–and is based on quite a famous church St. David’s and St. Mary’s at Kilpeck in Herefordshire.I think it’s really important to develop a strong sense of place within a story. It anchors the reader more to what’s going on. It also serves to anchor the characters too. In Angels, they are so attached to the place, leaving it would be unthinkable-even though Flammark’s past turns out to be as much the villain as the main antagonist. Running away from the threat is unthinkable. Emma also visits Sandmarsh Cathedral, another Norman revivalist building but of much greater scale. Sandmarsh itself, however, is loosely based on idea of Glastonbury. It’s full of new-age shops and has a pagan society. The pre-Christian roots of the town are developed in my short story Hallow’s Way. It’s currently available for free on my website. Ostensibly a Ghost Walk, I’ve used it to build the reader’s familiarity with the setting so that returning to the world becomes easier with each book. I’ve written two such stories now and will be releasing a volume of Flammark Tales once the third novel is completed.
So much time has been spent over the creation of the setting, I’ve had to draw a map of all its burial sites, barrows and standing stones. Thankfully, nothing is wasted. The map will appear in the books at some stage and certainly on Flammark’s dedicated facebook page: Friends of Flammark. Of course it’s not only the setting that makes a thriller. The characters do too and one of the challenges has been to create people who feel real, and who sometimes bounce off each other. Quite a lot of work went into Will, the troubled priest. Because Gabby is not who she seems, hers was also a difficult character. What to reveal, what to hold back? I did enjoy writing the sweary and insensitive D.I. Westen. He proved a great foil against Emma. I originally wrote him to provide texture to the story since the nervy numbness of her first chapters was in danger of flattening the narrative. It has come as a complete surprise that the seems to have gathered quite a fan base. He’s heading the favourite character pole on the Flammark page, by a quarter mile!!Most of the characters are back in the second in series where, yet again, Flammark becomes blighted with an evil spirit and Emma and her friends are threatened once more. It’s called Animus. I’m 20,000 words in at the moment and the main antagonist hasn’t even arrived yet, so am expecting the book to be a tad longer than the first. In many respects, its darker than Angels, more brooding and less ‘chummy.’ The cover has also been agreed, though needs a bit of tweaking. I’m hoping to publish roundabout May/June. If you want to be kept in the loop for publishing dates for Animus and other stories, as well the occasional Flammarkian gossips, do sign up to my newsletter. I hope you will give When Angels Fear a go. If you like thrillers, police procedurals and church mysteries, then I think you’ll enjoy it. I’m hoping to write many more episodes and it’s good to be in on the start of things. I love talking to friends and followers so do please feel free to get in touch on any of my social media, or sign up to my Newsletter. It’s great to keep in touch.