Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekend Wildcard: A touch of Rome-ance

Wildcard Weekend – well, how could I resist? Even the title of this post includes two of my favourite things, i.e. bad puns and Italy…

But really, it’s about the setting. How important is the setting in your book? Given that, in category romance, it’s all about the hero and heroine and their journey, the setting maybe shouldn’t be so important.

Though your characters don’t live in a vacuum. They have jobs (which need to involve time off, whether it’s an office job or something with shift work). They interact in a place, whether it’s a country estate or a castle or a glamorous modern flat overlooking the Thames.

And sometimes a setting can really help deepen the conflict – it might be that your shy heroine fears not fitting in to somewhere glamorous, or your hero is a self-made man and still feels that the establishment doesn’t accept him (I love fish-out-of-water stories.) Or maybe it’s a place that one of them takes for granted, and the other makes them see things in a different light.

As a reader, I love books set in romantic places – I’ve just read a Sarah Mayberry novel set in Paris, and I really enjoyed revisiting one of my favourite cities with her. As a writer, I have a bad habit of talking my family into research trips, because I’m the equivalent of a Method actor and like to see the places for myself before I write about them. (I know, I know – with the Rough Guide and the internet, I should be able to get a flavour and do my research at my desk – but I honestly feel I can add something more personal if I’ve been there myself.)

In the book I’m working on right now, the setting’s really important. It’s somewhere the heroine has always wanted to visit, ever since she was tiny. (Me, too.) Her dreams have been broken and she’s at the point where she needs to make some new dreams, and maybe let go of some old ones. And it’s where she meets the hero (who’s acting as a tour guide, though of course being a Presents Extra hero he’s nothing of the kind). He’s the one who brings her old dreams alive for her – and he’s the one who’s going to help her make new ones. And it can only happen in this one place in the world.

This is where they fall in love. Where he shows her his favourite places, and she teaches him to see the familiar with new eyes.

The trick is not to make it a travelogue. And that means making sure there’s enough emotion and enough conflict on the page. (I’m working on that, LOL.)

But the setting definitely helps. How could you not fall in love by the Colosseum?

Or next to the Trevi fountain, where the manes of the marble horses seem to ripple in the sunlight? (OK, so in real life it’s noisy and busy, but if you get there early enough it’s quiet. And do look up the scene in La Dolce Vita. Wow!!)

Or the Tiber, with its bridges and the bronze dome of St Peter’s?

Or with the Borghese park, where suddenly there’s silence and birdsong instead of the busy traffic in the main part of the city?

Do you have a favourite setting, as a reader or a writer? And, for writers, does it help you deepen the conflict?

In the the US, you can still get a copy of The Doctor’s Royal Love Child (in the first Penhally series); and very shortly Italian Doctor, No Strings Attached will be available in the UK on the Mills & Boon website. (Yes, Italy; but not Rome. Yet!) You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website ( and her blog (

1 comment:

  1. I think the things you covered through the post are quiet impressive, good job and great efforts. I found it very interesting and enjoyed reading all of it...keep it up, lovely job..