I’m thrilled to be able to bring you a great guest post by Rose Alexander on the sense of place in a novel. I adored Rose’s debut novel Garden of Stars (you can read my review here). Her latest novel Under An Amber Sky has been getting great reviews. Anyway I will hand you over to the lady herself…
A Sense Of Place
One of the most exciting and liberating parts of writing is that, as you tap away at your keyboard, you can transport yourself and your readers to absolutely anywhere. Literally anywhere in the world. Some people might think that the location is a function of the story rather than the reason for it. But in my experience the best writing comes when a country or landscape gives – or perhaps gifts – the story to you.
This is what happened with my latest novel, Under An Amber Sky. News stories about the tiny, uninhabited Mamula island off the coast of Montenegro caught my attention. The only structure currently on Mamula is a partially ruined Austro-Hungarian fortress constructed in 1853, but over recent years there have been several proposals to develop the island for tourism. All have come to nothing – until now. The government has leased the land to a hotel group that plans to turn it into a resort boasting swimming pools, a yacht marina, a spa, restaurants and dance floor. Nothing wrong there, you might think – but local people are appalled. Why? Because Mamula was a World War II concentration camp used by the Italian occupiers to imprison men, women and children accused of a variety of crimes. Many were tortured or starved to death.
What must the lives have been like for those taken there? For those left behind, desperate for news, not knowing what was happening to their loved ones? From these questions the plot grew and burgeoned and developed into the novel published on 24th May 2017. The book really wrote itself; the protagonist and her tragedy, the many characters who turn up to join her in rebuilding her life in Montenegro, the historical figures so deeply affected by war and bloodshed. The words simply flew from my fingers to the page. Sometimes writing is hellish difficult and takes forever, but creating this book was not like that at all; it flowed. I have no idea if books with a genesis such as this are better or more enjoyable to read than the ones that have to be wrenched out of one with great force and effort – perhaps you readers will be able to tell me the answer! – but it certainly makes the creative process a joy rather than a torment and that has to be a good thing.
Thank you Rose for a wonderful guest post. This has definitely whet my appetite for Under An Amber Sky which is out now.
From the bestselling author of GARDEN OF STARS comes a heartwarming and emotional story of hope and second chances.
When Sophie Taylor’s life falls apart, there is only one thing to do: escape and find a new one.
Dragged to Montenegro by her best friend Anna, Sophie begins to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. But when she stumbles into an old, run-down house on the Bay of Kotor she surprises even herself when she buys it.
Surrounded by old furniture, left behind by the former inhabitants, Sophie becomes obsessed by a young Balkan couple when she discovers a bundle of letters from the 1940s in a broken roll-top desk. Letters that speak of great love, hope and a mystery Sophie can’t help but get drawn into.
Days in Montenegro are nothing like she expected and as Sophie’s home begins to fill with a motley crew of lodgers the house by the bay begins to breathe again. And for Sophie, life seems to be restarting. But letting go of the past is easier said than done…