When I first started writing The Lost Pony of Riverdale, back in the summer of 2012, I knew where the book would be set - even before I had nailed down the plot.
I could have set the story in the pretty corner of Kent where I live. But the craggy tors and vast, dramatic skies of Dartmoor were calling. It was always a done deal.
I first fell in love with Dartmoor when I was about seven, during a family holiday to Devon. As pony-mad as Poppy was, I loved being so close to the wild Dartmoor ponies. I couldn't for the life of me understand why my long-suffering parents weren't prepared to smuggle one home in the boot of our estate car.
Every summer for years we went back to Devon, staying in a bed and breakfast on a working farm where the nearest thing to a pony was an ancient grey donkey who patiently put up with my attentions. And every year Dartmoor drew us back like a magnet.
Years passed, and visits to Dartmoor were few and far between - until I met my husband, Adrian. He grew up in Plymouth, just a short drive from the south west reaches of the moor, and we spent many a happy hour walking across Dartmoor during trips to see his mum and dad. Adrian even proposed to me on Dartmoor!
That was almost twenty years ago. Luckily our two sons, Oliver and Thomas, love the place as much as we do. So many happy family memories have been made there.
So it was inevitable that Dartmoor became the setting for the Riverdale stories. And when I’m sitting at my desk on the other side of the country, staring at a blank computer screen, all I have to do is close my eyes and imagine I’m on the windswept moor with the plaintive sound of curlews calling in the distance and herds of wild ponies on the horizon and I’m as ready as Poppy and Cloud are for their next big adventure!