I'm so pleased to welcome author, Kerry Drewery, onto the blog to talk about the fascinating settings for her latest YA novel, Cell 7.
Thanks so much to Serendipity Reviews for having me over on the blog, and giving me the opportunity to talk about settings in Cell 7.
Cell 7 is set in a society where the death penalty hasn’t been abolished but has evolved into a system where guilt is decided by public internet and phone votes over the course of seven days. There are seven cells on death row, one for each day of the week, until the accused reaches the Cell 7 where their fate is finally decided.
There are a few key settings within the novel, but one of the most important is death row itself, and the cells within it.
I wanted the cells to be very basic, and had a look around the internet for ideas and inspiration and found these –
I also spent the day at the old Victorian prison in Lincoln.
The old Victorian prison in Lincoln
My death row needed some specifics though; it needed to have a room for the counselling sessions close-by, it needed a larger cell at the end for the (potential) executions, and this needed to have space for an audience, and the audience needed to be able to access this without coming through the ‘cell’ building. I’m not very good at drawing but I do find it helps to map something out, so in my head, this is what death row looks like in Cell 7.
Rough sketch of how I saw the layout of death row
Another key setting within the book, is the area called The Rises. The people with money, power and influence live in the City or the surrounding Avenues, but those at the other end of society live in the Rises, a poverty-striken place, it’s made up of high rise flats, unkempt parks, and boarded up shops.
There are areas like this in most towns, so I took a trip to a town close to me and took some photos of the high rise flats, some of the public spaces and some of the boarded up shops (see above).
I took this in Grimsby - some old flats are being demolished.
It was very interesting to watch the people, the general comings on goings and remember that although this section of society is often looked down on, and assumptions are made about
their lifestyles, most are just people trying to survive and do the best for their families. It reminded me that criminals exist in all sections of societies – just a different type.
Inspiration for the underpass in Cell 7
The most fun setting to create was those for the TV sections. The show, Death is Justice, ended up with a couple of different studios depending on the show for that day. For the usual ‘news’ show I wanted something very glitzy and glam and looked at American news shows like Fox News.
Still c/o Fox News website
Another setting was a ‘talking heads’ section called ‘Judge Sunday’ and the inspiration for this came from a visit I made to the Old Bailey the summer before I started writing it. I found out that the public are allowed to sit in on trials within the Old Bailey (there’s information here), and I went and spent a couple of hours watching a trial and drawing the layout of the space. For security reasons, you’re not allowed to take in any electronic devices, but armed with some paper and a pencil I made a rough sketch.
Rough sketch of a court room in the Old Bailey
I realised that in the society I had created in Cell 7, the Old Bailey wouldn’t be used for its original purpose, but I thought that as it’s such an iconic building with such a rich history, it would be a perfect location to use as the story developed, and so it became a key setting within the series.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my mini tour of settings, and I hope if, or when!, you read Cell 7 you can see the influences of these real-life places.
Published by Hot Key Books in September 2016
An adored celebrity has been killed. Sixteen-year-old Martha Honeydew was found holding a gun, standing over the body.
Now Justice must prevail.
The general public will decide whether Martha is innocent or guilty by viewing daily episodes of the hugely popular TV show Death is Justice, the only TV show that gives the power of life and death decisions - all for the price of a phone call.
Martha has admitted to the crime. But is she guilty? Or is reality sometimes more complicated than the images we are shown on TV?
To find out more about Kerry Drewery: