Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Six of my Favourite Places

I have been to so many amazing places, especially in the 15 years since I took (early) retirement. Places I thought I’d never see, places which surprised me, places which seemed so familiar because I’d seen so many photos of them, and places which made a lasting impression on me.

Impossible to pick out any six ‘best’ so I’ve decided to list some of the places I’ve used in my stories, which happen to be among my favourite places.

1. The English Lake District.
This was the setting for Fragrance of Violets and, to a lesser extent for Changing the Future, and it’s also where my current ‘work in progress’ is set. I love this area which is about 70 miles from where I live. Beautiful scenery, with the lakes and mountains, and so familiar too, as I went up there a lot over a period of about 30 years when we had a caravan there. The Langdale Valley is my favourite spot, although sitting on the shore of Coniston Water with a large ice-cream comes a close second.

2. Paris
Abbey joined Jack there for a weekend in Fragrance of Violets. I first went to Paris when I was 18, and have lost count of how many times I have been there since. It really is a beautiful city, seen best (in my opinion) from a bateau mouche on the Seine. And, of course, there are all the pavement cafes where you can sit for as long as you want. Ideal for people watching!

3. New York City
Lisa and Paul have two days in NYC in Changing the Future. New York is one of those places that always seems familiar because, of course, you see it so much in movies but I’ll never forget the first time I was there (in 1980). We walked along 59th Street from our hotel and reached a road junction where the street sign said ‘Broadway’. I could hardly believe I was standing on THE Broadway! Since then I’ve been to NYC several times, but it’s always as exciting as it was that very first time.

4. Egypt
My next release (in November), Her Only Option, is set here and the story was inspired by the Nile Cruise I did in October 2010. Although I’d been to Cairo just for a day about 20 years ago, I always wanted to see Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, so my 2010 trip was the culmination of a long-held dream. I felt I had travelled back in time when I was in the Valley, seeing all the tombs of the Pharaohs, so that’s where my hero works. The other awe-inspiring place was the Abu Simbel temples on the shores of Lake Nasser. Sunrise there was an experience I shall never forget – and of course I took my hero and heroine there.

5. London
London is the setting for His Leading Lady, especially the area known as the West End, which is the theatre district (equivalent to NYC’s Broadway). I first visited London when I was seven and remember being so excited when I heard Big Ben strike the hour. At the time, in the pre-television era, I had only heard Big Ben on the radio. Since then, I’ve been to London dozens of times but, like Paris and NYC, it always seems ‘special’. I love its tourist sights, especially the 1000-year-old Tower of London and Westminster Abbey where history seems to come alive.

6. Ireland

I haven’t set any of my novels here (yet!), but I’m including it because it featured in the first story I wrote when I returned to writing fiction about 6 years ago. I was a fan of ‘The West Wing’ and discovered the world of fan-fiction. A chance comment from a friend set me off on writing a fan-fiction story about Jed and Abbey (the President and First Lady), which I set in Ireland. As a direct result, I went to the west coast of Ireland in 2007, and have been back a dozen times since then. I love Ireland’s scenery and heritage, not forgetting, of course, the REAL Irish pubs, and the friendliness of the people. One day I will set one of my contemporary romances there.


  1. Did you take these pictures, Paula. Beautiful!
    Your "retirement" was a stepping off point for a second career!

  2. All but one are mine, there is just one from morguefiles (the free-sharing site). Think my first retirement 'career' was travelling actually!

  3. Exactly- all the traveling pays off in settings!

  4. All of the places sound wonderful, Paula! I've been to London and Paris, and the Lake District. Oh, and of course, NYC. I think my favorites are the Lake District and Paris.

  5. I find it hard to choose a favourite, Jen, although the Lake District is very close to my heart, right from when I was in my teens (and that's a long time!)