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THE FIFTY MILE BEACH

One of the joys of fiction is making things up. Most authors limit themselves to plot, character, and dialogue perhaps, or time. I love to make up places, or at least 'grow' a new place from one that already exists. In the Dryden novels I tried to take the basic landscape structure of the Fens and create something bigger, flatter, and more dramatic. Now that I'm close to launching Death Ship I've realised I am doing the same thing with the north Norfolk coast. It's principal motif is the 'litoral' beachline, the long strand of sand, backed by dunes or marsh. Only at Hunstanton, where the famous red, white and brown, cliffs reach sixty feet does this model get subverted visually. But how far does this coast really stretch ? I've started using the term The Fifty Mile Beach - imagining it stretching on from Hunstanton all the way to Cromer. I've stretched it a bit in my head, to reach that magic 50 - becuase in reality it is probably only forty miles, and of course it is interrupted by inlets and shingle banks, islands, and the soft crumby cliffs which begin before Sheringham. But as an idea The Fifty Mile Beach has been born. Perhaps one day it will become one of Britain's natural wonders - but for the meantime enjoy it in the books.