Guest Blogger - Choosing a Setting

Posted by Claudia Moser on 6:10 AM in , , ,

Paula Martin a dear blogger friend asked me if she could have a guest post on my blog and I immediately said YES! Well I wrote it :) Anyway here she is and I must say I read it all with much interest!

Welcome Paula!

In the 1960’s, some scenes for a major British film were shot in my home town, and we watched some of the filming one evening. When the film was shown at the local cinema the following year, of course we went to see it. In one scene, a bus pulled 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 50 years later. I’ve read similar inaccuracies in books. As a result, I’m very wary about making basic errors like this when I’m writing about a place I don’t know.
My latest novel, ‘Irish Inheritance’, is, as the title suggests, set mainly in Ireland. I’ve been to Ireland many times since I first fell in love with the country, its history, its scenery, and its people. But I’m not Irish, and my hero and heroine aren’t Irish either. He’s American and she’s English, so I showed Ireland from their perspective, rather than from a native Irish point of view. In that sense, I’ve been able to describe places as I’ve seen them i.e. as a visitor, not a resident.
I prefer to use places that I know, or at least areas I’ve visited. Sometimes I name the actual locations e.g. Dublin, Galway, Clifden,etc, and my hero and heroine visited several places where I have been, such as Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Wicklow Mountains.
In other novels, I’ve invented a name for a town or village, even though I’m picturing a real place. This allows me to take some liberties with the layout of an area, and in one story I ‘moved’ a village into a different valley!
I have used locations that I don’t know in a couple of my novels (but only as a secondary location, not the main one). For these I was dependent on internet resources, especially travel guides, maps, videos, and photographs. Google street view is also invaluable for ‘exploring’ a town, ‘seeing’ the view from a particular place, and even finding a supermarket, as I did for one heroine to do her shopping!
I admire authors who can set a whole novel in a place they’ve never even visited, but I’d be too worried about getting something drastically wrong about the location. The internet can provide a lot of information, but can it tell me what it’s like to LIVE in a Greek village, or a small town in mid-West America, or a farmhouse in Tuscany? Can the internet give me the atmosphere of a place?
In a word, can it show me where buses stop? I’m too aware of readers who might say, ‘Buses don’t stop there.’ Inaccurate location details annoy me – and I don’t want to annoy my readers!

Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.

Website: http://paulamartinromances.webs.com
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/KtlU6Y
Blog: http://paulamartinpotpourri.blogspot.com

‘Irish Inheritance’ – to be released in February, 2014
Blurb: English actress Jenna Sutton and American artist Guy Sinclair first meet when they jointly inherit a house on the west coast of Ireland. Curious about their unknown benefactress and why they are considered as ‘family’, they discover surprising links to the original owners of the house.
They soon unravel an intriguing tale of a nineteenth century love affair. At the same time, their mutual attraction grows, despite personal reasons for not wanting romantic involvements at this point in their lives.
A local property agent appears to have her own agenda concerning the house while other events pull Jenna and Guy back to separate lives in London and America. Friction builds over their decision about the house and its contents.
Will their Irish inheritance eventually drive them apart — or bring them together?



Thanks so much for having me as your guest today, Claudia! I'm hoping some of my other friends will pop in too!

So fun to read about your processes, Paula. I am waiting for the week-end to take my trip to Ireland...anticipating a wonderful get-away.

Inaccuracies like the one you mentioned about the bus make me crazy. That's why I try to use places I've been and things I've experienced to make sure descriptions and events are accurate in my stories.

Paula, I love reading your books because it's like a little journey around the world for me. We travel mostly in the US when we go out and about, so it's fun to vicariously experience other places in the world through your eyes!

Oh,Paula,I do so agree and I applaud your attempts at authenticity. It dives me mad when writers don't check on facts; it ruins stories for me.It's all I can think about and the rest gets lost to me!
Continued success to you!

Many thanks for your comments!
Jo - hope you enjoy your trip to Ireland :-)
Debra - I also try to use places I know but even with those I have to double check some details. So glad you enjoy the different locations in my books!
Tonette - ditto. Glaring inaccuracies really irritate me too!

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Thank you for your comments, I appreciate them all!


"A story is not like a road to follow … it's more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you."
by Alice Munro

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