Wednesday 19 February 2020

Evocative places

Writers and readers know the power of location. Not just for selling houses, it sells books too! How often have you picked up a book from the shelf, or nosed around it on your device of choice, because of a place name in the title. This is especially noticeable with the summer season approaching - we hope - and holiday locations in mind. A lot of my ideas of what makes a romantic suspense, or a romantic mystery were formed by reading Mary Stewart. Hands up all those who vicariously fell in love with the Greek islands from reading her books. Of course, the strong silent hero had nothing to do with it.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a pre concert talk about Beethoven and his association with Vienna. More of that in another post, later. I've never thought of Vienna as a location for a book, but of course now I am, and Mary Stewart used it in Airs Above the Ground. There are threads of a treasure hunt involving a lost manuscript floating about in the brain, but it is really going to have to wait its turn.

All this made me think of the way a place can become a shorthand for a mood. I had fun with a short list. In all of them, romance is a given.

Paris - sophistication, food, a lot of emphasis on scent and luxury

Vienna - much cooler, maybe an older couple or second time around romance. Music.

London - famous landmarks, speed, hustle, weather!

Greece - heat, beaches, laid back lifestyle

The French Riviera - one of my specialities. I always get a first image of a 1950 type movie, with sports car speeding along the Corniche. Which just about says it all.

New York. This is darker, noisy, more edgy

Anywhere in Italy - food again. Architecture, art, Icecream

And of course, Wales. I'm planning a lot of my romantic suspense to be set here, capitalising on the scenery and the Celtic heritage. Myths and mists.

I am sure you'd have a few to add.

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