Please welcome fellow author and friend Paula Martin today. She is talking about her latest novel Irish Inheritance and how and why she picks her settings.
Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.
Setting my novel in Ireland
I tend to set my novels in places I know, or at least have visited, and as I’ve done quite a lot of travelling, I have a wide choice of possible locations. In a sense, however, I don’t actually ‘choose’ because as soon as I start thinking about a story, it seems to decide its own setting.
That was certainly the case with ‘Irish Inheritance’. Although the original idea came from an article about a Paris apartment that had been abandoned over 70 years ago, I knew my story would be set in Ireland, not in Paris. I even had the first few sentences in my mind:
“A house in Ireland?” Jenna Sutton stared over the mahogany desk at the lawyer. “Someone I’ve never heard of has left me a house in Ireland?”
I did then have to make a decision about exactly where in Ireland this house was going to be, but that was fairly easy to decide, as the part of Ireland I know best is the west coast – especially the counties of Galway, Clare, and Mayo. I deliberately kept its exact location fairly vague, apart from saying it was a few miles from the small town of Clifden in western Galway (because I know there are no large Victorian houses in the specific area I was actually imagining!)
In this case, I’ve used the name of a real town, but in my other novels, I have sometimes given a real town or village a different name. This allows me to take some liberties with the topography of the place, and also to move buildings around!
When Jenna and Guy, my hero and heroine, take a trip across Ireland to the east coast, I was able to draw on my memories of similar trips, and so they visited some of the places I’ve visited, such as Galway City, the Cliffs of Moher, the remains of the medieval Glendalough monastery and the wild area of the Wicklow Mountains.
They explore the small town of Dalkey on the east coast, and I had no problems with this, as I have been there several times. I was delighted when my Irish beta reader (whose assistance I had requested in checking my Irish facts) said she thought I had the atmosphere of the town “just right.”
This comment sums up why I feel happier using locations that I know personally. Not only because it means I can see the place in my mind but also because I have absorbed some of the atmosphere, which I hope my readers will experience. That’s why I have been over the moon when reviewers of ‘Irish Inheritance’ have made comments like, ‘Paula's description of the scenery and charm of the Irish countryside is amazing,” and my favourite comment, “(The) evocative descriptions of Ireland’s countryside linger even once the story is finished.”
Blurb for ‘Irish Inheritance’
English actress Jenna Sutton and American artist Guy Sinclair first meet when they jointly inherit a house on the west coast of Ireland. Curious about their unknown benefactress and why they are considered 'family', they discover surprising links to the original owners of the house.
They soon unravel an intriguing tale of a 19th century love affair. At the same time, their mutual attraction grows, despite personal reasons for not wanting romantic involvements at this point in their lives.
A local property agent appears to have her own agenda concerning the house while other events pull Jenna and Guy back to separate lives in London and America. Friction builds over their decision about the house and its contents.
Will their Irish inheritance eventually bring them together – or drive them apart?