Over the next few months, I’m highlighting some of my earlier novels. This month, continuing my series on treasure hunt adventure Uncle Flynn, here are some details about the locations and local history that informed the text.
The novel was initially inspired by the many walks I had taken with my eldest son on Dartmoor. We had visited several memorable locations, including Cater’s Beam, Sherberton Stone Circle, the “Crock of Gold” Bronze Age tomb, and Wistman’s Wood. These all turn up in the novel, even if I am somewhat liberal with the geography.
It might surprise readers to discover that some of the dangers faced on Dartmoor by the characters in the novel are not entirely fictional. There are deadly mires, especially the notorious Fox Tor mire and Raybarrow Pool. In addition, there are wild boar in the west (now documented fact). There have also been several panther sightings in the area, though most of these were on Exmoor rather than Dartmoor. The sheer number of these (and a few dubious photographs) raise eyebrows on a regular basis, although how they got there is a mystery. Some suggest that the UK Dangerous Pets Act in the 1970s caused eccentrics who owned big cats to turn them loose, and that they somehow bred in the wild. And yes – you can see adders on the moors at warmer times of year, though they typically slither away if you get anywhere near them.
Buckfast Abbey was another key location used in the book. Much of the history of the abbey works its way into the novel, especially regarding how Henry VIII burned priceless Catholic books, closed the abbey, and had its gold and other treasures transferred to London. William Petre, who is mentioned in the novel, oversaw this process. He later retired in the south-west, purchasing a couple of manors. Uncle Flynn moves beyond these facts to suggest William Petre had other motives for returning, namely that he had become obsessed with tracking down the treasure hidden by a few clever monks that had slipped through his fingers.
I always enjoy combining local history with fiction in my writing, and Uncle Flynn is a very good example of this. To find out more about the story in the novel, click here.
Uncle Flynn is available on Kindle and in paperback here. There will be more articles about this novel throughout the month.