The Setting in Pica

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Welcome back to Jeff Gardiner, who has taken up my challenge to talk about the setting for his latest book. Whatever your favourite genre, I guarantee you’ll enjoy his books, for he’s a master at mixing and matching. He has even written a book based in Africa – sharing the same shelf as mine!
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Pica is a young adult novel; the first book in the ‘Gaia’ trilogy. The setting in this first instalment is purposely restricted to Luke’s home, school and secret hiding place. Book two – Falco – opens the story up to an international setting, and the third book will be even wider in scope.
Luke lives in a typical British town, in a comfortable home. He hates the walks in the countryside that his parents drag him on, preferring to sit in his bedroom playing violent computer games. It takes the mysterious Guy – a new pupil at his school – to show him some of the wonders of the natural world around him. Luke is amazed and says at one point to his new friend: “I didn’t realise such amazing things happen all around us every day.”
picanewrelWhen a magpie begins to tap regularly on his bedroom window, he wonders if it’s somehow trying to communicate with him: “The magpie looked at me with eyes that gleamed with intelligent understanding. It knew me. I swear, it looked at me and knew I wouldn’t hurt it.”
As a teacher of twenty years, I’ve attempted to make the school scenes as realistic as possible. Action happens in classrooms, locker areas, playground, the Head’s office and the front school gates. Luke is cynical about school, where he feels insignificant and mostly ignored:
“School was its usual tedious treadmill of uninspiring lessons… I couldn’t help thinking there had to be a better way of enjoying my childhood than this.”
Near Luke’s home is a huge roundabout under a flyover, known locally as coney island because of all the rabbits living there. Luke feels drawn to explore within the trees and undergrowth:
“It really was a dense wilderness… Crouching down on the floor, I found I could get quite far by wriggling on my elbows and knees. I felt completely hidden and free to move, knowing I’d be completely invisible to the outside world. As I slowly progressed inwards, I considered what an amazing place this would be to have a den. No one would ever find it. It would be a place just for me when I needed to escape from the endlessly sad reality of life.”
Who doesn’t dream about finding such a place? And what Luke finds there is quite surprising…
Thanks, Jane, for hosting me on your blog. I hope it’s piqued your readers’ interest in ‘Pica’.
It certainly did mine, Jeff – I almost wish I were a Young Adult again!
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You can find Jeff’s very distinctive blog HERE: http://www.jeffgardiner.com/