The Longblood and Alnwick: Setting Magic?

Is it a coincidence . . . or magic?

The chance meeting that profoundly alters your path, the same song playing everywhere you go, the stranger on the subway who calls you by the nickname your long-passed grandfather used to—how do you explain these unexplainables?  

Whenever I embark on a writing journey, I run into at least a few of these . . . well, let’s call them magical coincidences for now. 

When I started my setting search for The Longblood, the story was a bare-bones concept. I knew my main character was part of a secret society of people who’d lived before, but not much else. I wanted to find a place that mirrored the uniqueness of these characters’ lives. But I had no idea where to start. Then, by chance, I caught an episode of Downton Abbey that featured characters dipping their work-weary feet into the cool British shoreline.

It stirred me. I’ve learned to pay attention to stirs, tingles, and all their visceral cousins, so I set my sights on British towns near the shore as a home for my gaggle of reincarnated souls. It was a wide net to toss, so I headed to my computer prepared for a long hunt. 

Fate had other plans.

I clicked on the first link. Stone cottages, haunting streets, and majestic castles heralded a place called Alnwick. We’d just met, but I knew.

Love at first sight.

Alnwick in the Snow by Andy Armstrong

And then, I learned something strange.   

It was so odd that I peered over my shoulder to see if the muse had finally materialized in the flesh and covertly sprinkled stardust on my keyboard.

Alnwick housed several reincarnated places. We’re not talking about a grocery store that used to be a bakery. We’re talking the kinds of places that have souls and stories of their own to tell.  

First, there’s Barter Books, a secondhand bookstore that was once an 1800s railway station. Inside, sun-flooded skylights and snapping fires ignite the mind. After scrolling through pictures, it was easy to imagine ticket holders dressed in Victorian styles dashing from the very spots where readers now rest in velvety chairs, quietly lost in the cavernous world of books.

Barter books by Victuallers – Own work

Then, there’s the Olympic Suite, a restaurant tucked in an 18th-century coaching inn on the corner of You Can’t Be Serious Boulevard and Pinch Me Street (okay, so that’s not the address, but just you wait). 

Step one foot in this restaurant, and you’ll be standing in what looks like RMS Titanic’s First Class Lounge. How? The walls, the ceiling, the mirrors, and more were peeled right off Titanic’s sister ship, RMS Olympic, and reassembled here for your dining pleasure. When Daniel and Ainsley have their fateful Olympic Suite dinner in The Longblood, I can almost see Jack and Rose whispering at a table nearby . . .

Fireplace at the Olympic Suite courtesy of Wikipedia

How had I stumbled upon this town of unparalleled reincarnation? What kind of magic was this? What kind of luck? 

Maybe these questions are not meant to be answered. Still, I’ve come to know there’s magic in coincidence, and more proof is just around the corner. For you, for me, for all those with eyes to see.

I also know Alnwick is an enchanted place. It’ll make you believe in bookstores with secret rooms, ghost-ships that sail in the dark of night, and the guiding hand of fate. And it always spurs my wanderlust.

But to visit, I need no golden railway ticket, no ride on a jet plane. I simply start writing, and like magic, I’m transported. 

If you read The Longblood, you will be, too.

Thank you for reading; click here to get your copy of The Longblood on Amazon! Available in eBook, paperback, and audiobook formats!

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