Last summer, I attended a writing workshop where each of the participants was supposed to write a short story... in one day. I brainstormed this vague idea about poor kids with magical powers but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with it. Finally, I decided to set my story in London, since I'd just spent six months living there. I've never been big on cities, but somehow London wriggled its way into my heart anyway.
Maybe it's because of the Thames River.
The Thames fascinated me from day one. Every time I rode the Tube over the river, I got up from my seat to look out the windows. Which way was it flowing? How high was the tide? What boats were out on the river? Were there kids playing on its banks? What could I see reflected in its shimmering surface? Whenever I had a day off, I liked to walk the South Bank or the Thames Path and I even went out during the February 2nd "blizzard" to walk (err, hike? wade? flounder?) along the riverside.
After I added in the London setting, my main character quickly developed a very special relationship with the Thames.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Speaking of history, I've taken a few liberties with it. The curfew was a medieval phenomenon which only applied to the area within London's walls; Fleet Street and Saint Bride's Church are both outside the city gates. And while there were cunning men (and women) in England, they were never incorporated as a livery company. They also never operated out of the Middle Temple – that was and is an Inn of Court, the abode of lawyers.