I spent the weekend in Oxford, the first time I’ve visited since before the publication of Oxford Blood. It really is quite alarmingly beautiful and I felt filled with both nostalgia and inspiration for Ivory Terrors (The Cavaliers: Book Three).
While I was there, I thought it might be fun to take some photographs of some of the locations in the novels to help readers visualise them better (I spent three years living there, of course, but most of my photos from my uni days are of me and my friends, rather than our surroundings).
This is the staircase where Harriet and Tom are meant to live during her first year. I real life, only second and third years would have rooms in here, as at my college, first years lived outside walls in a tower block. But there was no way in hell I was setting any part of a paranormal romance novel in a concrete sixties monstrosity.
This is New Building and its lawn, referred to as The Manor in the books. It’s where the Cavaliers do their Mayday champagne duelling.
“Beyond the Manor Lawns was a huge metal gate emblazoned with the college crest. It led to the Steele Walk, an area of woodland by the river on the outskirts of the college.”
…and this is what it’s like out on the Walk. You wouldn’t believe you were in the middle of a city.
“Eventually, they reached Harriet’s favourite place. The path opened out slightly, to reveal a small, rickety looking bridge over the water. She dashed onto it and beckoned to George to follow.”
And as this is the nearest bit of tree and grass to the bridge, I’m going to claim that this is where George then first bites Harriet.
“The dining hall was in the oldest bit of the college, a dark, stone, four-sided cloisters, There were mysterious doors at irregular intervals along the ancient walls. Harriet could only presume they led into tutors rooms and meeting rooms, but wouldn’t have been overly surprised to discover that they were doorways into other worlds. They reached the sweeping stone staircase to the hall.”
““I’ve heard the King’s Arms is good,” said a boy that Harriet vaguely remembered from the club night. “Apparently quite a few people are going there.”” Moving away from the college, this is the pub where Harriet first speaks properly to George.
“Harriet stood at her new desk and stared through the leaded window, out into the quad. It was walled on three sides with tall honey-coloured stone buildings and open to parkland on the fourth side, with an immaculate grassed square in the middle.”
And here are some deer. They live in the college. I didn’t give Lilith College a deer park, because although I’d expect readers to suspend their disbelief enough for the vampires, I thought deer seemed a bit far fetched. Seriously, if I was designing an educational institution, I’d think of teaching rooms, and places to sleep, and some social rooms, and maybe some facilities for sport and socialising and music. A herd of deer would be pretty far down the must have list! I love them though.
And finally, for the benefit of all those reviewers who’ve complained that Harriet drinks far too much champagne in the books, this is what you have to put up with in Oxford: