Saturday, November 08, 2014

Weekend Wildcard - Oh, the Places You Will Go...

We're delighted to welcome Louisa George to the Pink Heart Society, as she talks all about real-life inspiration for settings.  Plus she's got a GIVEAWAY for one lucky commenter!!

I love reading books that take me on a journey either to a place I love already, or introduces me to a place I’ve never visited before (be it a fictional town or real). The fabulous thing about writing stories is that you can put your characters into any of your favourite places and indulge yourself a little…I’ve just had my 11th book accepted by M&B and a good part of that book was set in York, England.

As a Yorkshire lass, born and bred, it was lovely to ‘revisit’ a place that had an influence on me growing up. I was able to capture the bits I remembered- using my old pal Google to assist on things that have changed, maps etc.

Two of my books have been set in Notting Hill, London, a place I lived when I was in my twenties. I absolutely adored living there (and only moved because we were saving up to buy a place of our own and couldn’t afford the rent!). I really enjoyed ‘going back’ and writing about the people, shops, culture etc and placing my characters into the middle of such a thriving bustling area. 

In Her Client From Hell, heroine Cassie Sweet has a food stall during the Notting Hill carnival just down the road from where we had our flat all those years ago. We lived on Ladbroke Grove, which is on the main route for the carnival parade, and every Bank Holiday in August we would stand on our balconies and watch the parade go by- or join in and dance in the street, just as Cassie does in the story. I also used what used to be the Portobello Star pub on Portobello Road as the Market Bar in my book.

If you’ve never made it to a carnival here’s a flavor of it (albeit very soggy!)

In Enemies With Benefits (book 4 of the Flat in Notting Hill series), the main characters of the series all live in Notting Hill on the corner where Ladbroke Grove meets Lancaster Road. 

From memory I chose this pub as the venue (although not the style of bar) for Blue- the bar in Westbourne Grove that gorgeous hero, Isaac owns. It’s a decent walk away from where they live, so a good bolt-hole for Isaac when living with the very sexy Poppy gets too much for him!

I’ve also set a book in Tuscany (Backstage With Her Ex), because…well, because it’s Tuscany and it’s beautiful and sophisticated and Italian.

And, because I live here, I’ve set many books in Auckland, New Zealand. Which I’m told readers find exotic, but really it’s just my backyard!

Currently I’m writing a book for a medical continuity set in Cambridge, UK and I’m having to do a lot of research online because I only ever went there for the day about 30 years ago! It looks like a very beautiful city with some ancient university buildings and a gorgeous river flowing the middle. I wish I could go and have a proper look!

As a reader I enjoy visiting new places, although I have to admit to wanting to visit fictional places too like Susan Mallery’s town, Fool’s Gold - which sounds such fun and very quirky and with a lot of very friendly people! Who wouldn’t want to go to Narnia or Middle Earth or Oz? Sarah Morgan’s Crystal Mountain…I could go on.

But which do you prefer reading about - real places or fictional ones? Any special places you’ve read about and would like to visit?

Louisa also has a GIVEAWAY of a paperback copy of Enemies With Benefits for one lucky commenter:

The last man on earth she should hook up with!

Poppy Spencer has discovered that there’s one thing worse than Christmas alone in her flat, and that’s spending it with Isaac Blair - her sworn-enemy-turned-flatmate! And that’s not just because he knows all her secrets…but because his sexy-as-sin smile and taut physique are making her all hot and flustered – despite the icy cold outside!

Unless a casual hook-up is just the thing she needs…? It’ll certainly break the simmering tension between them. The trouble is, with their history, that is going to be anything but casual…!

Louisa George writes fresh, flirty and fun contemporary romance. She is a coffee aficionado who is allergic to housework and addicted to zumba. She can be found at or on twitter and facebook.


  1. I do agree that reading books set in specific places (as opposed to some supposedly generic town) can enable one to travel in spirit, and enjoy visiting somewhere different. Whenever I'm planning a trip abroad, I always look for novels set there (as well as maps and guide-books) because generally one gets a real feel for a place, and for what matters to the people, by reading fiction. Also, there are several places I've been to in real life because of Mary Stewart's romantic suspenses, and more on the list, so books can inspire one to go to places too.

    1. Helena, what a great idea to read novels set in a place before you go. I have read some books and they have made me want to visit certain places- people flood to NZ because the Hobbit movies were filmed here, but not actually set here (strange!!)

  2. PS I can't find a way to contact the team generally, so I'm commenting here instead. I'd much prefer it if the pink heart did *not* jump up and down. I find it very distracting if there is movement in the sidebars when I'm trying to read a post.

    Maybe you could run a poll to find out whether readers prefer the pink hear to move or to stay still?

  3. I like both, depending on my mood. Sometimes I want someplace fictional, where the author can take me wherever their imagination pleases, where there are no limits to what you can find there, it's magic. Other times I crave a dose of reality, to see a place I've been before, or somewhere I may never get the chance to visit, but for my time in that novel I can feel like I'm there.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Louisa, I still remember Harlequin books I read as a teen that were set in exotic places - they fascinated me! Now that I get to travel for real, I, too, am inspired by those travels. I love to read a book that takes me somewhere I've never been, but also enjoy the small-town books full of fun, quirky characters.

    Off to 'visit' Cambridge now - thank heavens for Google! :-)

  5. Hi Louisa! One of the things I love about books is reading about different locations. I hardly get to travel at all, so it's a great treat to be able to read about exciting places like England, Australia and Scotland. I'm totally with you on visiting Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold and I would add Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor too. I know they're fictional, but I feel like after reading so many books about them, they seem like fabulous places to visit!!