Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Location, Location, Location

Locations in novels. Hmm. Have I possibly been restricting myself to using solely Australian settings in my novels because that is where I live? But my outback novel is my bestseller. And as a reader I love learning about other countries and places.  So this certainly challenges the mould I have settled myself into.

Should a writer set a novel in a place they've never been? The logical answer is probably "Of course" because as writers we should extend our imagination and writing muscles. I recently read that write what you know is out-dated and that we should reach beyond what we know and grasp for what is beyond reach. Do we all do this? Perhaps I'm not.
So, what settings do you love to read about in novels? Please tell me. Me? I love anything English/Scottish/Irish. Probably a hill village in France or Italy. Something along an English or French canal in a houseboat. Japan in cherry blossom time. Cara's forthcoming serial The Lemon Grove set in Italy sounds wonderful.
I'm heading for Russia, Switzerland and the Italian lakes in May; the latter has been on my bucket list and I can't believe I'm actually going there now. It looks to be magical scenery among the mountains so I must think romance while I'm there, people watch, and see what stories I can imagine. 

These are romantic settings, right? So maybe I should broaden my location horizons and think foreign.

My current outback novel WIP has an Irish heroine and in the process of writing and her character's evolution besides doing some background research on Ireland, I discovered she loved cooking. So I googled some Irish recipes and found things like a Guinness chocolate cake. Have a can of the black stuff in the refrigerator to try that one! Already had a Barm Brack in my recipe book so I've just made that and, since its aroma is wafting into my study from the kitchen, I think I need to go test a slice with a cup of tea. Lots of positives in researching settings.
So bring it on. Fantasize. Let me hear where you would love to read about a romance.


  1. As a reader I love reading stories set in different places and exotic locations. I don't live in Australian Outback so to read about it is a new experience for me. I get to virtually live there with the heroine!

    But as an editor, finding stories set in exotic locations is tough going-so Google is my friend!


  2. That's really interesting Nas, that you find it difficult to find stories set in exotic places. I think a lot of us set stories in places because they're generally accepted to be exotic such as the French Riviera or Italy. I do find it much easier to write about somewhere I have been and enjoyed and am desperate to set a book in Singapore which I visited a couple of years ago. To some people though, where I live - London - would be considered interesting. I would find any of Noelene's Australian books fascinating because I haven't yet been there. I also still love an English country village setting because as with all well loved cliches so much of what is portrayed is true! For me, warmth is a key ingredient - not sure I could relate to a romantic story set in the arctic but I'm prepared to be persuaded! Cara

  3. I like stories set in different places too - anywhere is interesting if the details and local distinctiveness are well described. I take Cara's point about the Arctic - presumably in romances, location has to resonate with the themes so we are looking at warm, relaxing, sensous surroundings. Which is why I have learned that my setting of Glasgow has not gone down well (although I did sell the books without bother to MyWeekly!) - I love the city but it has such a reputation for grittiness and violence that it perhaps doesn't work so well for romance. Now I'm trying to use other places - the Highlands which I know well and then abroad where-ever I've travelled. I will certainly be gathering leaflets/tickets etc where I go in future for research!

  4. One must remember that everywhere is an exotic location to someone. Where I live on my cliftop in Cornwall sounds amazing to someone who doesn't know it. I find it amazing anyway, but I know others get bored with where they live. I create places based on somewhere I know ... I'd hate anyone to say 'oh but it isn't like that really' so I embrioder reality. I don't write exclusively about Cornwall as I use othe rplaces that mean a lot to me. New Zealand has proved excellent material, as has Australia in the past. I suppose I'm lucky to have travelled a bit so won't run out of places for some time! I do agree though that Google is invaluable ... places change over the years as I discovered wehn writing my Potteries saga. Places I knew have long gone, facts I discovered through Google. But hey, let's all use our imagination whenever possible. Love Chrissie