Tony Ballantyne is the sci-fi author of Twisted Metal, the Recurison series and Blood and Iron. His latest book is Dream London in which the city changes a little at night and the people change a little at day. The story follows Captain Jim Wedderburn as he investigates while the towers are growing and the parks hiding while new criminals appear in the East End.
Geek Native wondered whether Tony would be interested in helping share his inspiration. He kindly agreed.
Dream London is a twisting nightmare where the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day. Here are some of the locations on London that inspired the book.
1) Elm Park Underground Station
No offence to London Underground, or the good people of Elm Park, but on a couple of occasions I fell asleep on the tube heading home after a night out with friends. I would wake up at Dagenham East (near which I used to work) just as the train was pulling out of the station and would then sit, confused, waiting for the next stop. Getting off at a station whilst still half asleep, hearing the train pull away into the silence of the night, realising that you are miles from home in an unfamiliar place and that it’s your own fault… I find that genuinely unsettling.
2) The Upminster Windmill
Because when you’re driving back into London late at night, when all is darkness and sleeping rows of houses, you don’t expect to see a windmill shining in the night, seemingly by itself. It’s that contrast that shouts fear right into your heart.
3) The former Oldchurch Hospital
I visited Daddio Clarke in Oldchurch Hospital. Oldchurch Hospital grew from the Romford Union Workhouse. The window of the Daddio’s ward looked out over Romford Cemetery and the Gas Works. The location was so over the top it was almost funny. They closed the hospital in 2006. I’m not surprised.
4) The flat on Keppel Road, East Ham
A spacious upstairs flat, fully central heated, furnished and decorated and at a very reasonable rent, yet no one wanted to live there. My wife and I looked around it one evening in late November, back in the early nineties. Neither of us believe in the supernatural, we couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
5) The Empty steps of St Paul’s Cathedral
Because the Occupy protest has gone and the indignation that we felt at the time is ebbing away. We’ve had our pay cut and our pensions reduced through the fault of a group of people who have brazened out their criminal incompetence whilst being paid handsomely for it. A group of people who are are now making us work on zero hours contracts to help fund their excessive lifestyles.
Those empty steps are a nightmare that will keep coming back to haunt us for years to come.
All of the above locations inspired scenes in Dream London, the last one most of all.
Image credit: Eilliot Brown.