Wednesday, 13 May 2020

The Choc/Ruby Festival - Welcome to the Riviera (and a few other places)


Welcome to day three of the Choclit/Ruby Virtual Book Festival. I hope you are having as much fun with it as the authors are. I'm sharing the day with Angela Britnell, who will be talking about Cornwall and Nashville, so we're covering quite a bit of the globe today.

I've chosen to look at locations for my spot on the main stage. It's a chance to do some armchair travelling, sadly the only kind available at the moment. In fact today I was actually supposed to be in Cannes, in the South of France, doing research. It was a long awaited trip, and I was planning to go to places that featured in Summer in San Remo, as well as collect material for future books. Maybe I'll make it eventually.  The fact that I'm NOT there means I could do with  a little help, but more about that in a minute.

Florence - Never Coming Home

Many readers already know that I like to set my books in distinctive locations, preferably ones with sunshine! For Never Coming Home it was Florence, in Italy, one of my favourite cities. In Out of Sight Out of Mind it was the area around Tenby in South West Wales, where I've spent may happy family holidays. I also like to use locations in London, as I used to live there. (You can see photo tours for several of my books by clicking on the tabs at the top of the blog.)
Tenby Out of Sight Out of Mind 

Albert Bridge in London. Most of my London based characters have homes in Chelsea, as that's where I lived when I was working there. 

Summer in San Remo was a particular joy to write, as it had lovely locations AND sunshine.  I had a ball with the setting on the Italian Riviera, using places I had visited on holiday, although I had to rely on memory and Internet research, as I didn't have any photographs. I also really enjoyed remembering and describing the food - pasta, pizza, gelato ...
In fact I enjoyed writing that book so much I'm hoping that it will be part of a series and the second one is almost finished. This second book has a brand new hero and heroine but, as it centres on a case for the detective agency, there is a chance to catch up with Cassie and Jake and meet a few new characters who might get books of their own at some stage. The plot involves conning a con artist, and there's a lot of wedding planning. I've had so much of fun organising an out-of-this-world, no-expense-spared event in a fabulous villa on the Cote d'azur, although no one actually gets married. The action shifts from the UK to the South of France, with a side trip to Paris for the hero, when he .... no I'm not going to say any more. All will eventually be revealed, I hope. All that vicarious travel was one of the high points of getting the first draft done. Now I'm polishing it up before it get submitted.

And this is where the help come in. If circumstance were different I'd be visiting the locations in the book, to take pictures and soak up atmosphere, while I put the finishing touches to the manuscript. As I can't do that, I'm hoping that people will post photos to help me out. The four main locations are Bristol, Bath, Paris and, of course, the Riviera. In this case I've chosen to be on the French side, in the area around Nice.  If you have photos of the two British cities, Paris or the South of France I hope you will tweet them, or post on Facebook, so I can use them for inspiration.

I know not everyone will have appropriate photos, so I have another request to make too. As I said, I'm hoping that the 'Riviera' books will become a series. There are a number of locations on both the Italian and French sides of the border that I might use, but there are also many other places that like the glamour of being a 'Riviera' - Mexico, Croatia, Torquay. (I can't resist that one - I have a plot in mind for the English Riviera already that involves a murder mystery weekend and a hero who is a rather stuffy academic - but that doesn't last when the heroine enters his life). So - I'd like suggestions for other Rivieras, with pictures, if you have them, please.  Also any more unusual ideas incorporating the word - again I have a plot for cruise ship that has Riviera as part of its name, although it will be a while before I get to write that one. At this rate this is a series that will run and run.

PLease include your pictures or suggestions in a tweet, using  hashtag #ChocRubyFestival and @choclit in the tweet, or post on the Choclit Facebook page if you prefer.  We'll put all the replies in a hat and someone will be winning a book at the end of the day.  I'm really looking forward to all the suggestions - so now it's over to you.

(As a bonus for those who are writers as well as readers, I'm going to post later with Ten Things to Think About When Choosing A Location.)

Looking forward to those picture and suggestions.


  1. We could all do with some sunny travels right now in fact it wouldn't have to be sunny just anywhere would do! I'm looking forward to your new book because I loved Summer in San Remo.

    1. Hi Angela - Yes a change from four walls would be good. I was supposed to be in St Tropez today! I think it was St Tropez. Fingers crossed the Choclit panel will approve the new book.