Paula contrasts two different locations in her novels.
In ‘Changing the
Future’, my hero visits Iceland. He’s a volcano expert and one of Iceland’s
volcanoes is heating up. Yes, I had to do a lot of general research about volcanoes
for this story, but I also had to research Iceland, because I’ve never been
there. From basic information such as the name of Iceland’s main airport
(Keflavik) and the distance from there to Reykjavik, to more detailed facts
about the roads and off-road terrain in Iceland, the scenery, and the
geographical location of Iceland’s volcanoes. I studied maps and hundreds of
photos and videos. Google Earth was good too, and Streetview, of course.
In the end, I think (hope!) I gave a fairly accurate portrayal
of Iceland in my novel. At least no one has told me (yet!) I’ve made any
howling errors, but I did keep my descriptions fairly brief, just in case! It’s
also worth noting that no reviewer actually made any comments at all about my
descriptions of Iceland.
In contrast, when I was writing about Ireland in ‘Irish Inheritance’ and ‘Irish Intrigue’ (and also in my current
WIP ‘Irish Secrets’, I was able to
draw on my own experiences and memories, as well as my own photographs. Not
that I wrote any lengthy descriptions – a paragraph at most every so often.
Here’s one from ‘Irish
Inheritance’: After the gentle green
fields of central Ireland, they were now driving through the wild open
countryside of Connemara, uninhabited apart from sheep and lambs. New vistas appeared
at every twist and turn of the road: clusters of bright yellow broom, small
brooks rippling over stones, breeze-whipped lakes at one side of the road, low
green hills with rocky outcrops on the other, and the occasional ruins of stone
cottages. A range of sharp peaked, green-grey mountains dominated the view
ahead of them.
And here’s one from ‘Irish
Intrigue’: Her gaze travelled across
the wide expanse of rippling grey-blue water below them and the low hills
surrounding the lough. Their slopes were dappled grey and pale green by the
autumn sun, which had started to filter through the clouds, and in the
distance, the rugged grey peaks of the Twelve Bens provided the perfect
backdrop to the scene.
Many of my reviewers commented about how much they enjoyed
my descriptions of Ireland, and perhaps my most treasured comment was from a
Galway-born man (now living in America) who wrote: Paula’s evocative descriptions of Ireland’s countryside linger even once
the story is finished.
maybe explains why I prefer to set my stories in places I’ve visited.
First-hand experience works far better for me than looking at photos or
watching videos. I admire authors who can write about places they’ve not
visited, but I was (and am) far more comfortable writing about Ireland than I
was about Iceland.