Let's Take It Outside
FROM THE GET LOST IN A STORY BLOG SITE
A Canadian once told me you could always tell the Aussies apart from everyone else living in Canada: they were the ones out firing up the barbecue and pouring the beer the minute the temperature eased a degree above zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).
I knew exactly what he meant: we Aussies love food; we love booze; and we love coffee (to the point of actual snobbery) – but we prefer to have it al fresco, thank you very much! But because I live close to the heart of the city of Sydney, where yards are either small or non-existent, that generally means going out – a lot – to restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes.
Two years ago, for example, I bought my husband a Nespresso machine for Christmas. A good present for a coffee snob – but the look on his face as he unwrapped it told me instantly it was going straight back to the shop. Why? Because he likes to go out for his coffee every morning and every afternoon, and get his shot of Vitamin D while he’s at it. It’s like a ritual.
And what can I say? I agree with him!
Fortunately for us, we’re spoilt for café choice in our neck of the woods – there are gazillions of them, all within a short walking distance of our house. And if you take a quick look at the small selection I’ve photographed for this page, you’ll see they all have one thing in common: outdoor seating. Even cafes with only the tiniest sliver of footpath available to them still manage to squeeze a stool outside for people who want to take in the sun while they’re sipping.
So what does all this have to do with my writing career?
Well, it’s all about setting. And I’m not talking about the “I was walking down 5th Avenue” style of writing, but rather about geographic ‘sensibility’.
As a reader, I love being transported to unfamiliar destinations, but for me, it’s not about street names or landmarks; it’s about having a window to a lifestyle that’s different from my own. What do the people in that place do? What’s normal, exciting, challenging, dangerous or just plain funny, to them? How has where they live influenced who they’ve become?
Stuck in a log cabin during a blizzard – something that’s never going to happen in Sydney? Yes please. Wyoming ranch – bring it on. A lost treasure in ancient Egypt – love, love, love! I adore the Brontes’ Yorkshire moors, and swoon over Poldark’s Cornwall. (Actually, I swoon over Poldark, full stop – but that’s another story!) Bring on the holiday-vibe Greek Islands, family-focused Italian vineyards, and austere Scottish castles; the bleak landscapes, the snowy terrain and eerie mountains. I’m thrilled by them all, and especially when they’re part of the fabric of the characters.
I love it, too, when someone is taken out of their place and plonked somewhere else, like a fish out of water: an outback Australian in London; a workaholic businessman banished to the country; a farm girl landing in Hollywood; a modern young adult transported back in time to ancient Rome. In those situations, the setting almost becomes a character in its own right.
Now, I’ve done a lot of travelling in my life, courtesy of a long career in aviation, and I know that as a writer, I’ll explore all kinds of wonderful locations in my novels in the future – but I have to say, I really love writing quintessentially ‘Sydney’ stories, and bringing a sense of our humour, our preoccupations, our lifestyle and our personality to overseas readers.
And all right, perhaps a glimpse of the gorgeous Harbour and our beautiful beaches while I’m at it
Oh yeah, and food, booze and coffee!
Just remember, we’ll be taking it outdoors if at all possible…
What about you? Do you have any particular settings that thrill you – either as a reader or a writer?
Sometimes Mr Right is Mr Wrong, and Mr Wrong is definitely Mr Right
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Nick Savage has been head-over-heels since he first laid eyes on Chloe - just a moment too late to stop her connecting with his team mate, Marcus. But when the goalposts shift and he and Chloe are thrown together on a week away, Nick dares her to get physical in whatever way she wants - with a kiss, a punch or anything in between. And if Chloe claims to feel nothing, he'll leave her alone for good.
How can Chloe say no to a week of mindless passion with the man she hasn't been able to get out of her head?
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