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Drawing inspiration from romantic settings

Drawing inspiration from romantic settings

Drawing inspiration from romantic settings

Setting is everything for my fiction, not just the backdrop of the story but where I write – where I dream up the first meeting of two people destined to be soulmates, or a first kiss shared on a moonlit beach, or a sunset framing lovers walking off into their happy-ever-after...

Places and sights have always been a rich source of inspiration for me in my writing. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a view of the Mediterranean, and even as a young child I remember staring out at the sparkling blue and dreaming up romantic fairy-tales. Then, as a young woman, I began travelling, and a whole world of romance opened up to me.

Kenya – wild, colourful, exotic – would become the setting of my debut romance novel, Burning Embers. Time spent in Italy informed my next novel, The Echoes of Love, set in Venice and Tuscany, and my most recent one, Concerto, set on Lake Como. When I travelled to Spain, I so fell in love with the region of Andalucía that I wrote not one but three books set in this land of fiery passion: Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy. Then there is Greece, that beautiful land of legend where I honeymooned, the inspiration for my novel Aphrodite’s Tears. There have been so many other fantastic trips, not to mention travels within the various countries I have lived, and with all this wonderful fodder for the imagination, I could just write and write…

And I do – every day, I sit down and write. But exactly where I write is of paramount importance to get me in the mindset to write evocative, vivid, passionate romance. I can’t write in a cold, dark, soulless office. I can’t write with a view of a brick wall. I can write when my surroundings are romantic.

My husband and I split our time between our homes in England, Ireland and on the Côte d’Azur, France. Our homes were carefully chosen for their beautiful architecture, the lands that surround them and their views – views are very important for a writer, I believe.

In Kent and Ireland, when the weather is fine I write outside. The scenery is so lush and verdant; the greenest of greens. Often, though, because I spend the late autumn and winter there, it is too cold or wet to write outside, and so I write in my office, surrounded by books and with a scented candle – sometimes even a log fire. I position my desk so that I can gaze out at the view. I love it when snow blankets the gardens in white perfection. Here is my home in Kent in the snow.

Our summer home is in Ste Maxime. It’s a French mas set on a hill that affords wonderful views over the Bay of St Tropez. Here I draw my inspiration very much from the vivid colours of the house and the landscape around. Whether I am inside or outside writing, I am always positioned so that I can see the sea – the Mediterranean of my childhood. This is the view of the bay through umbrella trees in the garden.

When I can, I like to sit outside to write. My favourite spot is here, in the gazebo.

I also spend a lot of time walking, on the beach and in the countryside; I find that as I wander I wonder, and my muse speaks to me. Here’s a favourite spot for a walk, a field of wildflowers.

But the greatest inspiration of all for me at my French home is the sun. Here, I see the most breath-taking sunrises and sunsets imaginable. It was this view that inspired the end of my novel Burning Embers:

They lay there, huddled against each other, their heads touching, their arms intertwined, the burning embers of their love glowing as they watched the long, spindly streaks of morning light seeping glorious colours into the sky, heralding the onset of a fresh new day. And mutually, silently, they vowed never to let go.

Every time I sit on the veranda and watch Nature play out its most magical show, I cannot fail to fall in love with the place, with the world, with the very notion of romance. From there, the writing flows onto the page.

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