I am delighted to be kicking off Game Players Blog Blitz with a fab guest post by the author herself Anita Waller
When a gang of six children playing in their den in the woods spot a man burying drugs nearby, it marks the beginning of the end of their childhoods.
Unsure what to do, the children dig up the drugs and take them away. But when the dealer, who they watched bury the stash, shows up dead, the youngsters are thrown into turmoil.
Scared of what might happen, the children tell the police about the body they have discovered.
Meanwhile, a group of gangsters start searching for their missing drugs.
Soon the children and their families become the target of the vicious criminals who will stop at nothing to retrieve their narcotics…
Locations and Research for Authenticity by Anita Waller
When I wrote Beautiful, many years ago in the early nineties, I placed it in Padstow, Cornwall. We holidayed most of the time in this wonderful county, and I wanted to bring that to my book. Describing the various locales in the book gave me a great deal of pleasure, and I hope that came across to the many readers who have enjoyed the book since it was published in 2015.
Angel, the sequel to Beautiful, was ultimately set in the same location because it had to be, but Angel was written over twenty years after Beautiful was first put to paper, and I had a much harder time picturing the locations – holidays to Florida and many other exotic places had all but erased Cornwall from my brain. I hope I still did this beautiful area justice.
I now stay much closer to home and set my books within a small radius of Sheffield – 34 Days and Strategy share a two-centre location of Sheffield and Lincoln, Winterscroft is set in Castleton, Derbyshire, about ten miles from where I live, and Captor is set wholly in Sheffield, partly in the city centre and partly in the suburb of Gleadless.
Every location I depict is shown accurately. I would hate for anyone to say that place doesn’t exist, or there’s no such road, just because I didn’t do in-depth research. In Sheffield we have a transport system called Supertram, which links the south east of the city with the north. It’s a superb way to travel; tram stops are a little bit random and it passes through fields instead of housing areas, but apart from little niggles like that, it’s good provided you are prepared to catch a bus to get to a tram stop. This obviously has to feature in my books, and quite rightly so.
And now we come to Game Players. I must state here and now, I love this book. I wrote it in a different kind of way – instead of using gut feeling I was coming to the end of a chapter, I used some structure. Each chapter contains 3000 words, give or take a few. I have never used this method before.
This had benefits I would never have imagined; it pushed me to finish a chapter every time I started one, it gave me scope to describe things, places and people without feeling word-rushed, and it made me feel as if I was achieving a massive amount every time I sat at the computer.
I had a very clear vision of the locations in this novel. It is set in Sheffield, in my own area; the little wood exists, it is next to a massive police station, it is bordered along one side by the Asda car park, and in the summer, it is dense and pretty much impenetrable. Ideal for building a den…
All the places mentioned in the book are real – Rother Valley Country Park, the Shire Brook, the ERF off the Parkway, all accurate and all in the places I set them, no moving them around the city to make life easier!
I live in a beautiful city, a city of seven hills. My home is in one of the valleys and is therefore cut off from civilisation as we know it, every time it snows. Sheffield is located on the very edge of the Peak District National Park; this city may be built on industry, but it has the most beautiful frame you could ever wish to have.
There is so much more of Sheffield to explore in my novels, and for the foreseeable future, that is where they will be placed.
Game Players is a story of childhood, of loss, of drugs, of friendship so strong it binds six young children together through everything that life can throw at them. They are estate children, they have drug education at school and understand a little of what makes an adult do what adults do. The novel is set in the long six weeks summer holiday, and they have built a den in the woods.
This location is so important to the novel; without the den, it would have been a different story. It would have been no story.
We have a strange system in Sheffield where hardly any waste goes to landfill, we have an incinerator. This provides heat to a large part of Sheffield’s housing, and my research into ERF, based just off the Parkway which is the main link road leading directly from the M1 to Sheffield City Centre, had to be thorough because I knew absolutely nothing about it.
I began by ringing Veolia, the waste disposal people, and six telephone calls later I reached a nice young man at ERF who knew a lot about it and was extremely helpful. I told him I wanted to have a dead body found on a landfill site, and that was the point I found out that it wouldn’t really happen in Sheffield. He said would my dead body be okay to turn up on a conveyor belt? Subsequent emails saw different suggestions, but in the end WE (not me) decided the conveyor belt was the most feasible.
I mention a place, a lane, called Pocket Handkerchief Lane; this again is a real place, and it is off the main road that connects North Anston with Dinnington, on the outskirts of Sheffield. It is exactly as I describe it, and doesn’t it have the prettiest name ever?
Locations are so important; they influence everything in the novel, even down to speech. Some of my characters speak as Sheffield people speak, and I make no apologies for that. I hope you enjoy the places you will visit in Game Players and listen to me when I say nowt ever turns out a’reight in a Waller novel!
Anita Waller was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 1946. She married Dave in 1967 and they have three adult children.
She began writing when she was around 8 years of age, writing ‘compositions’ at junior school that became books with chapters.
In 1995 she sent Beautiful to a publisher and as they reached the contract stage the publisher went into liquidation. As a result, the book was consigned to the attic in dejected disgust but in 2013 it was dragged out again for an enforced complete re-type. The original was written on an Amstrad 8256 and the only thing that remained was one hard copy.
Anita is not a typist and it was painfully reworked over two years, submitted to Bloodhound Books who, within three days of reading it, offered her a contract. 31 August 2015 saw its release into the wide world.
Following the outstanding success of Beautiful, she began a sequel on 27 December 2015, finishing it on 19 March 2016. The new novel, Angel, was launched on 7 May 2016.
34 Days followed, with its launch in October 2016. This was a huge success, particularly in the United States. While this, her third book in the psychological thriller genre, was flying out in all directions, she began work on her fourth book.
Winterscroft was a change in genre. It is a supernatural tale, set in Castleton, Derbyshire, and its release date was February 2017.
While she was writing Winterscroft, it became very clear from reading reviews that a sequel to 34 days was needed, and she began work on that. Bloodhound Books launched Strategy, on 10 August 2017.
Her next book, launched February 2018 and entitled Captor, is a psychological thriller, set exclusively in Sheffield. It was an instant success, both in the UK and the US.
The along came Game Players… once more set in Sheffield, the story involves a group of six children who have each other’s backs to a remarkable extent. The darker, criminal side of Sheffield is explored, and the book launch is 18 May 2018.
In her life away from the computer in the corner of her kitchen, she is a Sheffield Wednesday supporter with blue blood in her veins! The club was particularly helpful during the writing of 34 Days, as a couple of matches feature in the novel, along with Ross Wallace. Information was needed, and they provided it.
Her genre is murder – necessary murder.
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=anita+waller
Facebook page: @anitawaller2015