I was thinking a lot about book settings while I was on holiday in the gorgeous jewel that is Sri Lanka earlier this month. Specifically, I started wondering why – with all the brilliant, exotic, exciting places I’ve visited over the years – I have set just about every one of my books in Australia. And not just Australia, but urban Australia. And not just urban Australia, but Sydney!
I’ve stepped out of the country just once – for my Harlequin medical, From Fling To Forever, which globetrotted its way from Cambodia to London. (Although, come to think of it, even that one started with a wedding in Sydney!)
As a reader, I’ve been known to obsess over a locale or two. It’s no accident that every time I revisit a Poldark novel, I find myself heading for Cornwall shortly afterwards. I’m also a sucker for anything set in ancient Egypt. And don’t get me started on the Brontes and the Yorkshire Moors.
But as a writer, something different happens once the words are flowing. The setting recedes, and all I can think about is what’s happening between the hero and the heroine. And I can always see them, so clearly, living in their Sydney terrace houses or harbour-view apartments, walking the same streets that I do, sipping coffee at my local cafés and cocktails at my favourite bars, shopping where I shop.
Now, I’m crazy about Sydney and there’s nothing I like better than sharing my wonderful city with readers – but I’m going on the record right here to say I’m going to mix it up a little here and there in the future, because I’ve had escapades worthy of some fictional attention all over the world – from Chengdu to Port Moresby to Mumbai to Abu Dhabi to Portofino to Athens.
So although I spent my Sri Lanka time sitting under a steamy sun, in a glorious villa courtyard with a couple of monkeys swinging their way around the plants, tapping out scenes set in – drum roll – Sydney? Well, watch this space…
I’d love to hear what you think! Is the setting a crucial component of your reading pleasure? Do you have any favourite places? Are you happier reading a story set in a place you’re familiar with, or do you prefer exploring other worlds?
And if you quite like a little bit of Sydney, you might be interested in taking a peek at my latest book, Wanting Mr Wrong. The heroine, not surprisingly, lives just one street away from me!
Evie Parker has never been one to swoon after celebrities – give her a neuroscientist over an actor any day! So when she develops her first movie-star crush, she’s determined to date her way out of it, starting with the next good-looking doctor she sees. Yet hovering on the fringes of her life is her gay best friend’s determined brother, Jackson J Stevens, a famous actor who comes with trailing paparazzi. The one thing worse than a celebrity in Evie’s eyes is a media circus, so Jack isn’t an option no matter how hard he flirts with her. Evie knows what she doesn’t want; Jack knows what he does. And somewhere in the middle, pheromones are making things go haywire every time they’re together.