AJ LEEHART welcomes you to SPURN and KILNSEA

My fictional towns of Dartley and Beswick are based on villages like Kilnsea, where the buildings and coast are crumbling slowly into the North Sea. The whole coast and the sea itself play major roles in the Dartley Trilogy books, from Stoker´s Whitby right down to sunny Skegness.
Kilnsea´s old St Helen’s Church was lost to the sea in 1826: the graveyard and its occupants had slid off into the dark waves sometime before. All along the coast you´ll find warnings and roads which finish abruptly. In The Gorge a house collapses into the North Sea near the climax of the action. Wonderful clifftop and empty-beach walks and bays bring to mind the old wreckers who would lure ships in with lights and ransack them as they lay marooned on the beaches.
Kilnsea boasts bunkers and other strange, grey ghosts of history, like the Kilnsea Sound Mirror, a 4.5m high concrete acoustic mirror which, in pre-radar days, was used by the army as a warning system for approaching enemy aircraft and Zeppelins. These days it is Grade II listed and weirdly atmospheric.
I lived for a while in the lighthouse at Spurn, a tidal island which, thanks to a storm in 2013, is becoming ever more cut-off from the mainland. I wrote The Gorge, Dog Days and Hydrophobia here, alone, the waves crashing about me. The brave are advised to walk Spurn in the late afternoon, in the gloaming, or stay to try and experience the ghosts of Spurn Point at night. Beware the high tides but be thankful for the local lifeboat station.
Down the Humber Estuary is the port of Immingham, which features in Hydrophobia: a stowaway on a boat bound for Scandinavia manages to avoid the dreadful waterborne disease which is ravaging the British Isles. Further out at sea, hidden now, is Doggerland, the landmass which once lay between the British Isles and Scandinavia, and which features in the upcoming, final book of the Dartley trilogy (The Gorge and Hydrophobia make up books one and two).
Named for the old Dutch fishing boats which worked the submerged sandbanks, Doggerland was populated in pre-historic times: ornaments and hand-worked items have been dredged up by modern fisherman. As explained in the last book in the trilogy, Doggerland was finally done for by a mega-tsunami which was set off by an underwater landslide which took place just off the Norwegian coast. Waves of between a hundred and two-hundred metres took that island and its populace to the bottom.
We think of them, and those the sea has taken, when we look out from the coast.
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