What the guidebooks say
Name: Crossman's Gully
Location: A day's ride (by horse) from Marumaru (also fictional, see part one).
Importance in The Mannequin Makers: features in Part Two, Part Three and Part Four. Without giving away the plot, let's just say the climax happens here.
Inspired by: Earthquakes (the town), Clay Cliffs, Knottingly Park Bush Hut
What the novel says
"I made my way slowly to the door and eased it open. The hinges gave a creak but the man did not wake. Outside, I surveyed our destination for the first time. To my left a curving wall of rock rose up to a height of thirty feet. The rock was yellow with black tarnished edges and greenish-black vertical stripes. A collection of square-sided boulders lay at the foot of this cliff, their surface brownish-grey with pocks of the same sandy yellow. Dry, thorny bushes and larger trees with waxy green leaves sprang up from gaps between the boulders but I stood on a sort of plain with knee-high grass that swirled in the breeze like some diaphanous material. The grass was bound by another curving wall of rock perhaps forty yards away. It was as if I stood between two cupped stone hands." (p.109)Skirting around the spoilers
The locations in Part One and Two weren't too difficult to talk about without spoilers. I guess saying there's a shipwreck in the subantarctic is a bit of a spoiler, since it happens halfway through the book, but it's pretty clearly signalled on the back of the book.
Crossman's Gully is a bit different.
Let's just say it's a place certain characters retreat to in various times in the novel when town gets a bit too much.
The notable features of this gully are it's geography and the hut from which Avis has just emerged in the passage above.
A world of pure imagination
When I first ventured into Crossman's Gully in the first draft of Part Two of the novel, I didn't know what it looked like. I didn't even know it would have a name.
So the first draft was a bit vague. There was a hut in a gully.
I knew that I'd need to flesh it out more in future drafts, and when I returned to the gully in subsequent parts of the novel.
With this in mind, I went on my road trip in late January 2012 (third time in three posts it's been mentioned... must've been important).
Clay Cliffs and Earthquakes
I blogged about my visits to Clay Cliffs and Earthquakes here. Basically, I was drawn to these places by their names. I didn't know what I'd find exactly, and certainly wasn't thinking: this can be my gully.
But when I arrived at both I thought: this can be my gully.
First up was Clay Cliffs, near Omaramara. The geology of the place was pretty interesting, but I was more struck by the view looking back through the formations to the braided river, the brown plain and the foothills.
And a bit further around, you glimpse the snow-dusted Southern Alps.
The scene I'd already written in my gully occurred in early January. I was there late January, so it was pretty similar. I began rewriting my scene in my head.
I thought I'd cracked it. I thought Clay Cliffs was enough.
Then I went to Earthquakes. And I was like, "This is my gully."
And then, when I went to Waimate, I had the final piece of the puzzle: Knottlingly Park Bush Hut, the design of which I shamelessly appropriated for the hut in my gully where events happen.
In the end, Crossman's Gully is all of these places and none of them.