1. The moors
I was taken to Dartmoor a lot as a little kid. Apparently we even used to camp there, which now sounds pretty horrifying. Although The Followers is actually set on the Yorkshire moors, I returned to Dartmoor twice more whilst writing it, because that was the landscape that had made its way into my blood stream. Each time I was shocked afresh by the freezing wind, and how rapidly the moors could change their mood. Also the desolation of it, and the loneliness – the perfect place to base an isolated and controlling cult.
2. The forest
The forest in The Followers was inspired by a particular forest near Postbridge on Dartmoor. The trees were so close together and the branches so dense that hardly any light could get in: the perfect place to hide. It became Moses’s forest in The Followers.
3. The medieval village and the river of blood
When I was about fifteen, I went on a cycling holiday with my family round the south of France. We passed through a tiny medieval village called Brousse-le-Château, which is built into the hillside with a river flowing through it. It was stunningly beautiful, but also very atmospheric – especially after the sky darkened and the rain came.
In fact, it rained so hard that the red clay was washed down from the banks and the river turned red. It was Biblical and ominous, especially in the presence of the shrines set up throughout the gloomy, winding streets. I wondered what would happen if the river turning red were interpreted as a sign from God. Around ten years later, I used this idea in The Followers.