I feel like a superstar.Travelling through rural India with my two long-suffering friends, everywhere we go people beg to have their picture taken with us. Yesterday, for example, we went into Fort Jaigarth, a stunning mountain fortress in the hills of Rajasthan. Just inside the gates, we stopped to admire the beautifully dressed women lined up for photos. Next thing we knew, we were at the center of a photo flash mob. Women jostled for position next to us, while the men with them snapped pictures. The guys soon decided they needed to be in the pictures too, so they traded off handfulls of cameras and posed next to us as well. I think we would be there still if my friend Jaya–clearly made of sterner stuff–hadn’t reminded the lot of us that we were actually there to learn about the history of the place.
As a writer, it was a reminder of how easily something or someone stands out if they don’t match their location. While I’m standing next to total strangers smiling at their cameras for the next few weeks, Lizzie Lamb is hosting this Sunday coffee and sharing some of her thoughts about how important it is for writers to get the location right, whether that’s done with characters who fit seamlessly into their location, or with those who stand out as a contrast.
So please grab a cup of your favorite Sunday morning brew, pull your chair near the fire, and join me in welcoming Lizzie Lamb.
Location, Location, Location
Guest Post by Lizzie Lamb
How does a writer choose the location for her novels? Maybe it’s somewhere she loves and has revisited many times. Maybe it’s somewhere new which sparks off her imagination and she finds herself wondering what if . . . then the characters start forming themselves into an orderly queue, demanding to be given voice through the pages of her book.
For example, in Tall, Dark and Kilted I have two different locations: Notting Hill and Wester Ross. I loved the movie Notting Hill and was intrigued by how desirable that area has become, when once it was regarded as a slum and was the scene of race riots in the late 50’s. A few summers ago I had a one-off opportunity to explore the garden square where Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts fell in love. These gardens are private and access is usually only available to the owners of the million pound houses which back onto these fabulous green rectangles. The garden which blew me away, was one just off Elgin Crescent W11. Inspired, I used it for the location where out-of-control sisters, Cat and Isla Urquhart, hold their wild party and get busted by the local police. As a direct result, the heroine Fliss, loses her job and travels up to Wester Ross to manage a holistic spa owned by their ditzy mother. There she clashes head on with their brother, brooding, haunted Ruairi Urquhart. Their love story unfolds against a backdrop of a highland castle set in beautiful Wester Ross, Kinloch Mara.
Scotland has featured in two of my books and will also be the setting for number four (hopefully published late 2016). Why Scotland? Anyone who visits the far west coast of Argyllshire and further north cannot fail to be affected by the swirling mists, changing light and the magical, mystical atmosphere engendered by the lochs, mountains and rushy glens. Small wonder the place is populated by faerie waterfalls, monsters in the mist and – of course – gorgeous heroes wearing kilts.
In Scotch on the Rocks I have imagined a once-thriving island community – Eilean na Sgairbh, now almost deserted since the closure of the local whisky distillery owned by my heroine, Ishabel’s, family. This island was partly inspired by Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh, but is in fact an amalgam of other places I’ve visited on that coast. I loved the idea of an island community cut off from the mainland twice daily by the tide and only accessed by an ancient causeway known as The Narrows. It is across this causeway that the hero Brodie is blown in on a storm wind – and then the fun begins. I was able to give full rein to my imagination and describe the island in some detail when Issy takes Brodie on a guided tour of Eilean na Sgairbh to visit the ruined distillery. He nervously clings to the side of the car, being more used to six lane highways and urban American landscape than the soft contours of Eilean na Sgairbh.
Boot Camp Bride was inspired by a totally different location, North-West Norfolk. A friend has a house in Thornham, near Hunstanton, and I’ve spent many happy days walking on the marshes. That coast has a stripped back beauty which you don’t get at first glance, it took me several visits to ‘get my eye in’ and I’ve loved it after ever since. Once, when sitting on a bench overlooking the marshes, watching flocks of wild birds coming in to feed, I thought what a great place it would be to smuggle drugs into the country! I’m a writer – sue me! Behind me was a large house known as Thornham Manor and I thought – what if the house was a Boot Camp for Brides and a front for smuggling activities? My mind ran on a bit further – what if a rookie journalist (Charlee Montague) has to pose as a prospective bride to gain entrance and a cynical, hard bitten photographer (Rafael Fonsecca-Ffinch) poses as her fake fiancé to get the ‘scoop’? The hero, Rafa, also happens to own a mews cottage located in a Chelsea backwater – it’s in need of a serious upgrade, but I could almost imagine Austin Powers living in it! That’s the best thing about being a writer, you can do whatever you want with your characters and where they live.
That about wraps it up. If you like your romance with a great big dollop of humour, fabulous locations and with a guaranteed happy ending, check out my novels. My heroines are can-do, go-getting women and my heroes – well, they’re just to die for, kilted or not!
Oh, and I should say that in #4 which I am currently writing, the heroine gets to live in a castle. I’ve modelled it on Castle Stalker, round which we were given a private tour by the owner in Summer 2015. How could I NOT use that in a novel?
NOTE from Barb:
Do you have a favorite location that you think would make a good setting for a novel? Where is it, and what kind of book would you like to see there?
Join Lizzie Lamb for her next romantic adventure tale, This Highland Magic.
Guest Author Lizzie Lamb
Contact and Info for Lizzie Lamb and her books
Amazon page: http://tinyurl.com/mpcv6bn
Linked in: uk.linkedin.com/pub/lizzie-lamb/18/194/202/