Paula has kindly written a very interesting post about the importance of knowing the background detail for any novel set in a real place, and she practises what she preaches! Thank you for this, Paula.
But first, an intriguing blurb and buy links:
Fragrance of Violets
The title comes from a quote by Mark Twain: 'Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it'.
The story, set mainly in England’s beautiful Lake District, is about two people who need to forgive each other and also deal with other issues in their lives.
Abbey Seton distrusts men, especially Jack Tremayne who destroyed their friendship when they were teenagers. Ten years later, they meet again. Can they put the past behind them?
Abbey has to forgive not only Jack, but also her father who deserted his family when she was young. Jack holds himself responsible for his fiancée’s death. He’s also hiding another secret which threatens the fragile resumption of his relationship with Abbey.
Will Abbey ever forgive him when she finds out the truth?
Find Paula’s books on the Whiskey Creek Press website; Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US)
Setting my Novels
Many years ago, some scenes for a major British film were shot in my home town. We watched some of the filming one evening. When the film was shown the following year, of course we went to see it. In one scene, a bus pulls up outside the Town Hall. You could sense the reaction all over the cinema, with people muttering ‘Buses don’t stop there.’ In that split second, the illusion was lost as people with a personal knowledge of the location were distracted by an inaccuracy.
A minor detail, I know, but it has stayed with me, over 40 years later. I’ve read similar inaccuracies in books about places I know. Someone drives along Quay Street in Galway – nope, it’s a traffic free zone. Someone looks out from the White House and sees Pennsylvania Avenue beyond the Washington Monument - wrong, the Monument is south of the White House, and PA Ave is north.
In my opinion, writers must always take into account of the fact that one or more of their readers will know the place(s) in their book(s) unless, of course, they are completely fictitious. All the research in the world will probably not give you the information to avoid making an error which causes the reader to say ‘Buses don’t stop there’ (or similar).
This is why, so far, I have set my novels in places with which I’m familiar. His Leading Lady was set mainly in London, which I know fairly well. Fragrance of Violets is set in the Lake District, an area I know intimately. The village in this story is based on a real village, but I’ve given it a different name and ‘moved’ a few buildings around! Similarly, in my June release, Changing the Future, I’ve used a real Lakeland village (a different one) but given it a new name.
Eighteen months ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt of setting a novel in Egypt, but having spent two weeks there, I think (hope!) I absorbed enough to write reasonably authentically about Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. I had to do more research than, for instance, a novel set in the Lake District, but at least I had a basic knowledge on which to build.
When I was writing a fan fiction story, I set part of it in Galway City in Ireland. I’d never been there and, to my knowledge, none of the people on the loop where I was going to post it had been there either. However, I still wanted to make sure my setting was accurate, so I went over to Galway for a few days. I walked from the Cathedral to Eyre Square, and then down Shop Street and Quay Street to the harbour at Claddagh. Maybe I could have done that on a street map or even with Google street view but it wouldn’t have been the same. I was able to absorb not only the sights, but also the sounds and smells, as well as the whole atmosphere of the place.
In short, I need to experience a place for myself. Not simply to avoid basic inaccuracies, but also to help my readers to experience it too. I admire those writers who can use settings with which they’re not personally familiar, but I find I need to be comfortable with my setting in order to give it some authenticity.
You can find out more about Paula on her Website; Blog; and Group Blog (with 3 other writers)
Paula lives near Manchester in North-West England, and has two daughters and two grandsons. Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places and has travelled extensively in Britain, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her favourite places are the English Lake District and Ireland. She’s also interested in musical theatre and tracing her family history.