It’s often been suggested that London is a character in my novels and short stories, but when I conceive the plot for a novel, I have to make a conscious decision about how much of a role the location will play, with the result that some novels could actually be described as ‘London novels’, while the rest could quite easily be transposed to another major city.
The key London ones are as follows.
‘Roofworld’ was specifically inspired by and designed around the roofscape of London, starting with Piccadilly Circus (a conscious kick-off point to what I hoped would be my career) and is almost entirely set in the city’s exteriors – the tale of disaffected teens living on rooftops came so close to being filmed so many times that I lost count.
‘Red Bride’s key scene involves a woman running up the steps of Waterloo Station in a red dress, and has a specifically London feel. I’ve never reread the novel, so I don’t really remember what it was about!
‘Soho Black’ was more specific, covering the tiny area that is London’s nearest equivalent to an Old Quarter. When I wrote it, Soho had a very different character, and was largely populated by tailors, production companies and food stores. Now, most of the properties are short-lease cafes. The novel concerns the life and death of a film executive, and the peculiar character of the area, to which a few shreds can still be found clinging.
‘Disturbia’ was such a London book that my publisher made me carry out the tasks set in it – one an hour to be performed by the protagonist over the course of a single rainswept London night, on pain of death. This is one of the two books that take place mostly after dark in the city.
‘Plastic’ could almost be a companion piece to ‘Disturbia’. Set along the Thames at night, the housewife heroine’s travails (and the kinds of people she meets) mirror those of Vincent, the ‘Disturbia’ hero.
‘Hellion’, my YA novel, is very London-specific, being set in the kind of park and its backstreets with which all Londoners are familiar. I still like the book, even though the publishers screwed up its release.
And of course, the Bryant & May novels are filled with London lore and locations – the next is set in the Tower of London and Clerkenwell.