Will the real House of Shadows please stand up …

One of the joys of writing fiction is being able to take inspiration from various sources and put them all together exactly as you want. The exterior of Askerby Hall, the House of Shadows, is based to a large extent on the beautiful Burton Agnes Hall in East Yorkshire.


Burton Agnes Hall


So I took Burton Agnes Hall and tweaked the roof, giving it a couple of towers and using the roof at Chillingham Castle in Northumberland instead for the climactic scene.

And this is a stylised version of how the designer imagined Askerby Hall for the cover of the hardback:


The house tucked away in the bottom corner of the paperback cover is less convincing, I think – although it does have a suitably creepy feel to it, I suppose.


Once I had the house just as I wanted it,  I moved the whole building bodily from East Yorkshire to the North York Moors.  I imagined Askerby to be somewhere like Lastingham, and the open countryside that Isabel loves so much is like this, actually the western moors above Kepwick.


As for Crabbersett, where Isabel and Judith grow up, this is based on a house even further away. Cotehele, a gorgeous National Trust house in Cornwall, has a clover shaped squint exactly like the one Isabel peers through when she first sees Edmund …

Cotehele 14


House of Shadows is available now on Amazon and at all good bookshops.


4 Responses

  1. Quantum says:

    Interesting that you pick and choose parts of buildings in this way, though the sinister creepy atmosphere must be entirely of your own creation!

    I enjoyed the audio version a lot and learned a few things about life in the Elizabethan period. The procedures for child birth were especially horrifying! Tied to a bed in a darkened room with a blazing fire and no pain relief. Makes me very thankful I’m in the 21st Century!

    Thanks for another stunning listen 🙂

    • Very glad you enjoyed the audio version, Quantum. I’m with you on being grateful to live in the 21st century – although I should say that being tied to the bed was not part of childbirth. I was suggesting that was how they would have dealt with post-partum psychosis. They did, however, believe in stifling rooms and shutting out supposedly harmful fresh air at childbirth. Must have been awful!

  2. martin says:

    Why choose the vavasour family as your main protagonists especially as they are a real family

    • A friend pointed out that the Vavasours are a real family after the book had been published, by which time it was too late to change it. I had no idea! I chose the name of Ralph Vavasour from the Elizabethan wardmote court records that I’d been working on: he was a merchant and seemed just the sort of man who might make a lot of money and move out to the country to become a gentleman. I even remember looking in the telephone directory to check that there were no local Vavasours! So it was a mistake but a genuine one.

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