So, the question related to finding inspiration and how that translates into stories.
Often it's hard to know what inspires a story and it's usually an amalgam of experiences and ideas. Sometimes I find it easier to talk about my inspiration after I've written the book as then I can recognise tiny seeds of ideas that might have come from particular places.
For me one of the strongest sources of inspiration is place. A location might not inspire the story idea, but it's a big part of what keeps the story strong and real in my mind, even if I'm writing about a fictitious place. Especially if I'm writing about a fictitious place. Then, more than ever, I try to ground myself in aspects of a locality that seem real.
So, for an example. My current US release GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT is set initially in a massive, luxurious tent in the middle of a wilderness. Later it moves to a thriving middle eastern city and its fabulous royal palace. I was lucky to be able to draw on some of my own experiences while writing this. No - I don't mean being kidnapped and presented to a sheikh for his pleasure. I think my husband would have something to say about that! But there were plenty of other inspirations. These photos are some I took a couple of years ago, and they helped inspire me as I wrote.
So too did memories of being in the desert, especially at night when the cold bites your bones and makes you think of snuggling up to someone. The scent of the wilderness, not just sand, or gravel, but vegetation too. The aroma of meat roasted with spices over charcoal (mouthwatering). Seeing sprawling black nomad tents and wondering what they were like on the inside. The rhythm of a camel's gait as it carries you high above the ground. The creak of the saddle as the animal rises and its strange, disdainful comments on your riding ability (well, that's what it sounds like).
Then there were the towns and cities with traffic ranging from luxury cars to donkeys. I remember particular scents I can't identify, but which convinced me more than anything that I was in a foreign place. The tastes, of course, which I loved. The spice markets with huge conical towers of cumin, coriander, saffron and so on.
The streets full of metal work, gleaming in the sun or perhaps in a covered bazaar, lit by electric light. Jewellery shops that make your jaw drop, filled to the brim with gold bangles, necklaces and earrings. Shop after shop filled with vibrant materials your fingers just itch to touch. Perfume stores containing the most amazing array of scents. I remember my first visit to Egypt and the heady scent of attar of roses. I fell for the Cleopatra fantasy then and there.
For something completely different, my April UK release, UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH is set in Australia. It's partly located in central Sydney, a place I know and can write with ease. However, much of the book takes place in the Blue Mountains west of the city.
The mountains are incredibly scenic and fascinating, and dangerous too. Lives have been lost over the years as bushwalkers got lost and climbers and canyoners came to grief. It's a climbing misadventure that is the catalyst for this story where the hero loses his brother and his eyesight. He then determines to bring to book the woman he blames for his brother's death. Despite the dark start to the story it was written from a deep love for this area. Here's one of my favourite walks, near Wentworth Falls.
You can see the landscape is imposing. As well as that, there's a tradition of wealthy Sydney people building their holiday retreats in the area. There are some gorgeous old homes there - gracious and with commanding views from the plateau. The perfect place for a recuperating billionaire to retreat and lick his wounds in private. Till he finds the woman he's seeking is right under his nose.
For me the mountains conjure images of crisp days, shimmering summer heat and curling winter fog, birdsong, fantastic cafes and bookshops, immaculate gardens and of course stunning scenery.
Are there places that inspire you? Special places that make you feel good? Maybe somewhere you'd like to write about or have written in. Or if you don't write, somewhere you just love visting?
I'll give away a signed copy of one of my books to someone who leaves a comment.
In the meantime, you might like to check out my latest releases. You can read about them on my website and learn more about what inspired these particular stories. GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT is out now in North America. UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH is an April release in Britain, then May for Australia and New Zealand and June for North America.