Fantasy worlds made real by readers | Natalie Haynes

Fantasy worlds made real by readers | Natalie Haynes
Unlike Rebus or Morse (or my last novel), Sophie Hannah sets her detective fiction in an invented county to avoid over-familiarity. But the strategy is not infallible

Some detectives belong to their cities so completely that it’s impossible to imagine them anywhere else: Morse is defined by Oxford, Rebus can only stalk the streets of Edinburgh. When they leave their home turf, we’re itching for them to return. Detective fiction is all about imposing order on chaos, so it’s no wonder readers like their detectives to be in the right place.

But author Sophie Hannah has told Dubai’s literature festival that she uses an invented county (Culver Valley) for her stories to avoid just such over-familiarity. Readers are so obsessed by the idea that a certain kind of person lives in a certain kind of place (no poverty-stricken junkies in Hampstead, for instance) that she preferred to invent somewhere free of preconceptions. “I wanted to be able to tell stories without people thinking ‘Oh I know what people in Nottingham, or wherever, are like’.” It also reduced complaints from readers who noticed mistakes in real-world descriptions.

Related: The Amber Fury review – ‘A modern thriller about ancient tragedy’

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Source: Guardian Transport

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