Wednesday 29 November 2017

Why not Wales?

Scotland and Ireland are popular locations for romance novels – Wales, not so much. As I was born in the Principality and it is my home, I’m curious as to why that is. We have beautiful scenery, a fabulous, accessible coastline, historic buildings, archaeological sites, Dark Sky reserves, myths and legends, traditional food and drink, unpredictable weather, our own language … So why do books set in Wales rarely seem to feature in the best selling romance charts and everyone’s auto-buy list?

The international popularity of the TV series Hinterland - set in Ceredigion, around the town of Aberystwyth, suggests that Wales can be an attractive location - you only have to look at the scenery featured.  The one thing I do take issue with in that series are the interior shots - Wales is not entirely populated by semi derelict farm houses, rusting caravans, tumble down sheds and crumbling Victorian piles. I know they are trying for a desolate, inhospitable ambiance, but it still grates with me. Other than that, the series shows what Wales has to offer. Wales is used often for film locations, but usually appearing as somewhere else. Lots of the locations in the film The Finest, for example, were in Wales, but were portrayed as being in Cornwall. 

So - why not Wales as Wales? And in a book?

I have a vested interest in the question, as I like to set scenes from my books in Wales, usually in and around Cardiff or the National Parks. The second half of Out of Sight Out of Mind is set in Pembrokeshire, and in the new novella What Happens at Christmas  a large part of the action takes place in the snow bound Brecon Beacons. I'm also currently in the throes of developing a series that will be located on a fictional stretch of Welsh coastline, but one based on the area where I live. I’m hoping that those books would be popular and that people would enjoy them – but would they stand more chance of that if I was setting them in the Highlands? 

Is there a reason that Wales is not a go-to destination for romance? Is it simply that few romances have been set here? If so, then it’s clearly my job to provide in that area.

What would make you, as a reader, want to pick up a book that was located in Wales? Maybe even more importantly, what would stop you picking it up and adding it to your shopping cart?
I’d really like to know.  

Wednesday 22 November 2017

On location for What Happens At Christmas

A large part of the new Christmas e-book novella - What Happens at Christmas - is set in the Brecon Beacons National Park, in Wales. While the converted barn where the heroine stays for the holiday is invented, and I've also messed about with the weather, creating  some freak conditions to make sure I had oodles of snow on Christmas day, the hills and the scenery of the Beacons are real. As is the fact that the Park is a Dark Sky Reserve - making it an excellent place for star gazing. Very romantic, star gazing. At least, I hope it is. Abergavenny, the town where Lori, my heroine, does her last minute shopping for Christmas, is a real place too.

To give you a flavour of the setting - this week's blog has pictures. They wouldn't win any prizes for artistic impression, but they give you an idea. You just have to imagine it all covered in snow.

No - this one isn't Wales - it's Carlyle's House in Chelsea, in London.
This is the area where Drew, my hero, has a flat   
Now these are the Beacons - taken on a day in summer

Summer again.

This is a winter view, November and foggy.

You can see the fog over the hills to the right of the picture. 
And here we are, in Abergavenny
The hills lurk over the buildings of the town.
More lurk, and more fog.
The chickens in the roof of the Market Hall.
And this was the cake and gingerbread latte I rewarded myself with,
 after taking pix on a foggy day.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Stop Press


Just to say the lovely cover of Summer In San Remo is in the Author Shout Cover Wars this week.

Votes appreciated!

To vote, click here

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Outnumbered by books

I appear to have an addiction - cookery books. This was highlighted in the supermarket today when I exercised a great deal of will power and did not buy the Hairy Bikers new Mediterranean one. I very much wanted to, but  I was good, because you know - lots of other cookery books already. I have a sinking suspicion that I may eventually succumb - based on the recipes from said book that were reproduced in one of the Saturday papers that I read in Costa coffee, but for the moment, will-power rules.

I do make things from the books - sticky and dogeared pages testify to that, but mostly I just love looking at the pictures.

What else do I have? Well there is the TBR pile, or shelf. No make that shelves, but we all have one of those. History books - quite a lot of those - mostly to do with the day job, but some for books I plan some day to write - yeah, when the 48 hour day is invented.

Gardening. I have gardening. Not quite on the scale of cookery, but same principle.

Then I have what you might call the esoteric stuff - art and some spookyish stuff - symbols and folklore and a few about railways. Yes, they are all for books yet to be written too. And there are travel guides and plays - including two copies of the complete works of Shakespeare. A smattering of poetry and some classics left over from school and a few family hand me downs with book plates for Sunday school prizes for my mother and my grandmother. Which is where the reading thing came from. And signed copies of friends' books - they have their own shelf in the spare bedroom.

Which has made me realise that apart from the kitchen and bathroom, there is only one room in the house that does not have a bookcase/shelf in it and that's because it's too small to get a bed, my desk and a bookcase in there. Everywhere else there are books and that includes the hall and landing. Not many, but a few. And there are none in the airing cupboard, or there weren't, the last time I looked.

It's official. The house is full of books. I'm out-numbered. All I am is the live in librarian.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Writing Magazine - I wish I'd known ...

 I'm currently doing the last tweaks to What Happened at Christmas - now on pre-order, folks  - so I'm a trifle distracted, but not so distracted that I forget to tell you that  I'm appearing in this month's I wish I'd known column in Writing Magazine.

It's on special offer this month so you get a fab magazine, with oodles of writing chat and valuable info and insights and all for 99p!!

And me - on page 39, talking about the things I wish I'd known when I began my writing career.

Available now in a bookshop near you.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Snowdogs - Tails in Wales

Cardiff and the surrounding area is currently playing host to the Snowdogs - who are raising money for the Ty Hafan Children's Hospice.  I managed to take pictures of some of them, but there are 43 dogs and 57 pups, so I only scratched the surface. Here are a few of the Snowdogs on the trail. They will be in place until 26th November and then will be all together in the Capital Shopping Centre on the farewell weekend 8-10 December. Woof, Woof.

He's on the prom at Barry Island

Also on the prom

He greets you outside Central Station

Outside the Cardiff library

Pups - inside the library

More library pups

Another from the library. He looks very cheerful

Another library pup

The last library pup

A 'four seasons' Pup from St David's Centre
outside John Lewis

Another season - looks like summer

I think this one is spring

So he must be autumn :)
Rather a fearsome looking Snowdog
at the M&S end of St David's Centre

Pups from the M&S end of St David's Centre
I think he was my favourite - always been a sucker for fur.

Pup from the Capitol centre

More Capitol Centre pups 

And more

And another

The last one 

From the very top of Queen Street

He was outside the museum

There are lots more to see - at the other end of town, at Penarth and in the Bay and some of the local Cardiff parks and the airport. It would probably take a whole day to track them all down!