Where Does Zilombo Live? A Photo Tour of the English Countryside

SP GatesIn her last guest post, author S.P. Gates shared some visual renderings of the monster in her new lower middle grade novel, The Monster in the Mudball. In this guest post, she shares photos of some of the real-life places in the English town of Newcastle Upon Tyne where her book is set.

When I write stories I like to set them in real places. The Monster in the Mudball is set in a city called Newcastle Upon Tyne near where I live. I thought you might like to see some photos!

zilombo1This is the main river that runs through the city. Note the building (nicknamed “The Silver Peanut”! ) and beautiful bridge! But, when Zilombo hatches out from her mudball she doesn’t live along this main river. Five minutes’ walk away is a weedy, forgotten backwater. It looks like this:

zilombo2It’s a muddy little stream with old boats moored all along it. That sinister shadowy figure under the bridge is me!


It’s got empty, derelict buildings like this along the banks.

zilombo4And lots of ducks!

This is where Zilombo makes her den, in an old sewage pipe.

zilombo6And these are the slippery iron ladders Mizz Z and Jin have to climb down to reach it.

The Monster in the MudballThis is the old building where Grandma and Grandad Tang make their Chinese dancing dragons.

zilombo8And these are the steps Zilombo hops down to get to the quayside after she hatches out. This is where she nearly strangles that enormous seagull!

zilombo9Here’s where Zilombo takes Smiler after she kidnaps him and has her epic fight with the Metro train, which she thinks is another monster.


And these are the iron girders Mizz Z and Frankie heroically climb to rescue Smiler from the bridge.

I like setting my stories in places I know. It makes my descriptions much easier. I don’t even have to imagine anything! Also, because it’s set in places I know, somehow that makes my story feel more real to me. I always take photos (like the ones on this guest post) of where my story is set and look at them as I write. I don’t know if this will work for you when you write your own stories. Maybe you could try it!

Learn more about The Monster in the Mudball

Read a guest post by S.P. Gates on Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog, and enter to win a copy of the book