A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Story Setting and Sightseeing by Kat Ellis

I’m a sucker for a great setting. Being a writer of YA thriller(ish?) books, setting is one of the things I use to create atmosphere within a story. And I try to switch up my settings with every book; in Blackfin Sky, there’s an isolated coastal town where strange things happen. In Breaker, the serial killer strikes at a gothic boarding school in Pennsylvania. And in Purge… well, that was about a cult living in a giant floating egg.

But I have some go-to mental props when I’m trying to envision a tense, creepy setting – inspired very much by my wanderings around the North Wales countryside. Take a peep…

The Woods

People have been getting stalked, kidnapped, and murdered in the woods since the dawn of storytelling (probably). You’d only have to read Lucy Chrisopher’s The Killing Woods or Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth to know this. Both Blackfin Sky and Breaker have creepy scenes set in the woods, so no wonder it’s one of my favourite places to go and mull over plot lines.


Historic buildings

I love a building with a shady past, don’t you? Whether it’s a castle or a boarding school or – in the case of this next photo – an abandoned mental hospital, I always find story fodder in historic buildings. This was actually the inspiration behind the gothic boarding school in Breaker.



As a subset of historic buildings, I also love exploring ruins. When I come across one in the middle of a forest, I’m basically set for the next month, inspiration-wise.

This is Valle Crucis Abbey in Llangollen – and it was going to be the setting of a ghost story I set aside a while back.




Okay, so I saved my favourite for last. My nan lived next to a really old cemetery, and when I was little I used to go and play in there all the time (and definitely not nick the pretty blue gravel off the graves). Now when I go for walks, I look for really, properly old cemeteries, and quite often sneak one into my writing – as I did in Blackfin Sky. This cemetery is one of my faves, and definitely inspired the one in Blackfin. 



Kat Ellis is a YA author from North Wales, where she grew up immersed in ancient myths about dragons and giants, and spent her childhood getting into trouble while exploring the local cemetery. Her books include Blackfin Sky (YA fantasy thriller), Breaker (YA suspense), and Purge (YA sci-fi thriller).

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This entry was posted on September 13, 2017 by and tagged , , , .

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