Thursday 9 July 2015

Setting the Scene - Deep Water by Lu Hersey

As part of the Deep Water blog tour, I am pleased to welcome author Lu Hersey onto the blog to discuss the settings of the novel. 
Deep Water is a novel about myth, magic and romance, set on the Cornish coast - a place I’ve known and loved since childhood. It permeates my writing and probably quite a lot of my thinking, and thanks to Viv at Serendipity Reviews, I’m getting this chance to tell you how and why…

Cornwall encompasses a heady mix of sandy beaches, rocky, dramatic coastline, wild moorland, ancient mines with miles of tunnels – and a very long history. Not only that, setting a story in this landscape gives a writer a perfect excuse to visit the place a lot more often. Research is vital, right?

Deep Water is set mostly in North Cornwall, in an area covering the villages of Boscastle, Tintagel and Port Quin. I’ve changed the names of these places in the book, mostly because I needed to alter the geography and layout of the villages a little so that they fitted the story better. (I’ve also made the Cornish bus service strangely convenient at times!)
To give you an idea what the places in the book look like, Ancrows is very like Boscastle, Cararth is Tintagel, and Porthenys bears a remarkable resemblance to Port Quin. Oh yes, and Graymouth is Plymouth. That’s where I come from. No offence, Plymouth, but Graymouth kind of suits you…
Anyway, I was really nerdy about choosing the names of the villages when I changed them, so they all mean something in Cornish. Most writers love to procrastinate (generally calling it “research”), and for me that meant looking up words in the Cornish language that related to the villages in the story, and making up new place names. So Cararth means something like “castle on a promontory”, Ancrows means “the cross” (because that’s where the chapel in Deep Water is located) and Porthenys means “isolated cove’.
Cornish land has been mined by people since pre-Roman times, so consequently it’s riddled with tunnels, which can be a very useful plot device. The coastline is also littered with sea caves, often with difficult access, beloved by smugglers and ideal for hiding in – so long as you’re careful not to get cut off by the tide. I’ve combined the tunnels and caves in the novel, making a perfect hidden exit from land to sea…
The north Cornwall coast has generally clear waters, excellent for the underwater scenes in the story…
However, it’s also famous for sudden storms and rough seas pounding the rocky shoreline, which means it’s all too common to find gravestones engraved to drowned mariners in Cornish graveyards. In the book, Danni’s grandfather, a fisherman, was drowned at sea – and has a memorial something like this…
There are shipwrecks all around the coast – and there’s a lot of coastline. Tragic though that is, it also happened to be ideal for my plot. The wreck of Danni’s grandfather’s boat is a vital element in the story.

From all this, you’re probably getting how important the landscape of Cornwall has been to shaping the story of Deep Water. This has been a great opportunity for me to outline some of the reasons why – so thanks again to Serendipity Reviews for inviting me to post about it!
When her mum vanishes, Danni moves to a tiny Cornish fishing village with Dad – where the locals treat her like a monster. As the village’s dark, disturbing past bubbles to the surface, Danni discovers that she’s not who – or what – she thought she was. And the only way to save her family from a bitter curse is to embrace her incredible new gift.

Deep Water by Lu Hersey, published by Usborne, is out now. Read the first chapter online at or watch the trailer at
To find out more about Lu Hersey:

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