Thanks guys, and sorry for my slow reply (I am currently on a canal boat!)
These are all extremely helpful ideas, great brainstorming. I am going to take some time to digest it all and see what speaks to me.
I do like the idea of a fairly “quaint” or “middle class pretty” town which contrasts with the trauma of abduction. Also the theme (which runs through the book) of a place looking prettier on the outside than it is on the inside.
I originally planned to base the story in Grantham, but when I visited and walked round the town the other day, it was a lot less “pretty” than I had recollected, and even the locals described is as “a bit of a “sh*t hole”. So I’m not sure that the “real” Grantham would serve my story that well, despite having certain geographic features I need.
Squidge, do you mind if I ask where you live (feel free to DM me)?
But maybe Lincoln yes…
Good points too, Andrew, about the pros and cons of real vs fictional, specific and universal.
Deepening the sense of place is one of the edits Sarah has asked me to work on. Really, it’s (just) to give the book a greater sense of being rooted and grounded – you know, so that when you read the story, you feel completely immersed in the story-world, rather than feeling an author has cobbled this tale together from thin air (erm). In that regard, I could use any kind of place… However, I think makes sense to have an atmosphere that works with the plot and themes of the story. As Jonathan so perfectly puts it: having “enough physical details so that the setting can embody even the subtlest moods.”
So… I think probably Grantham is out and I need to find a new template.