London is a city close to my heart. I was born and bred here, I still live here and it has this magnetic pull over me that will always draw me back wherever I go. So I always love to hear it's draw for other people and even more so I love to read about my city, so I am pleased to welcome author of Relics Tim Lebbon to the Blog to talk about why London
Quite some time ago––eighteen years, maybe even twenty––I was invited to London for the day on an exploring adventure with some new friends.
I'd been published for a few years by then, mainly in small press magazines and by small indie publishers, and I was slowly getting to know fellow writers who'd become friends. Des Lewis and I had started writing short stories together (we wrote a baker's dozen of short stories over the space of two or three years, maybe they'll even be collected one day). I'd also started conversing with Simon Clark, and we were discussing collaborating together on several TV ideas (we did, and they never went anywhere ... that's TV). And so when they invited me to explore London for a day with them, guided by a man who had a better knowledge of London than most––Mark Samuels––of course I said yes.
It was only one day, and it turned into a series of journeys from one pub to the next (culminating in a mad, slightly drunken sprint across London for me to catch my last train home, but that's another story). But each journey was through streets I'd never walked before, past buildings I'd never seen, and anywhere we went Mark told us stories about the area, who had lived where, and what he or she had been doing or writing at the time. It was an eye-opening experience, seeing London from the inside out, and I don't think we clapped eyes on any of the serious tourist attractions.
Even before then, London held a strange allure for me. A new city built upon ancient foundations. A place where what is visible aboveground is dwarfed by the subterranean structures that exist way down out of sight––Tube tunnels, stations, and abandoned service routes; sewers; air-raid shelters and nuclear bunkers; forgotten basements; underground rivers. There's so much about the city that people don't know about, and no one person can possibly know everything.
When I wrote Relics, the decision to set it in London was subconscious. I didn't even have to think about where this story of mythological creatures and their valuable relics should be set. London was a natural, and on a couple of occasions when it was suggested that the story could be set elsewhere, the whole concept almost fell apart.
I love world-building, and Relics has as much as in-depth world building as any of the alternate-world fantasy novels I've written (I talk more about this in another blog post on this tour). For Relics London was the perfect setting, and I honestly don't think the story would work anywhere near as well if it was set elsewhere. There's a sense of space, grandness and scope to the city that any reader will be familiar with. The idea of shady deals in dark alleys, crime lords owning certain areas, and gangs carving out their own turf. The city itself is one of the main characters in the novel, and as with any good character it has its dark sides as well as its light, and intentions hidden away as well as overt. London is a dangerous, wonderful place, and probably as capable of dark miracles as any familiar location can be.
In Relics I dig deep looking for those miracles. What I find might surprise you.
Relics is out NOW...grab your copy and don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour below: