Favorite Aussie settings
While I was thinking about a topic for this post, I happened to be on a long weekend holiday with my son in Canberra. Of all our major Aussie cities, I have a particular love for our nation?s capital. It?s drivable (three hours away). It?s a good 10 degrees cooler than home ? always a bonus. And it?s elegant, picturesque and has less cars than any city I?ve ever seen. So what better subject to blog about than Australian setting?
When international readers think of Australia, the outback is probably one of the first things that comes to mind. But this wide, diverse country is so much more than that: from beach to bush, city to snow. Outback to island. And even those can vary ? urban Melbourne shopping versus Brisbane?s laid back coffee culture. Outback Northern Territory compared to Armidale, NSW. And the snow peaks of Jindabyne compared to Mt Hotham.
When I start on a new book, setting is one of the first ideas (besides character) that solidifies for my story. Yet paradoxically, scenery description is one of the last additions: my story is riddled with ?insert bit about scenery here? until the last few weeks of my deadline. Which doesn?t mean ?setting? isn?t something I don?t give deep thought to. Setting not only dictates where to put your characters, but it also defines who they are and how that will react. If they grew up in a small country town, did they love it… Or hate it? Were they born to wealthy city dwellers and live in a high rise? Impoverished trailer-park parents? An army or forces family? Did they have great childhood with good friends? Or did they want to escape the first chance they got?
When done right, setting should enliven and enrich your story, giving your reader an armchair experience they may not get from live cams or Google Earth. When I was a kid, I was part of a ?moving and vacationing family? – we lived in various places around Australia, in small country towns and big working cities . And when we finally settled in one town, we always vacationed interstate, giving us kids a broad exposure to other places and things. As you can imagine, I?ve seen some beautiful country, amazing beaches and unusual natives, so obviously, some of those have found their way into my books! Better yet, writing about places I?ve been, worked, seen or holidayed at means I don?t have to force the words. It also means I?m (hopefully) giving readers a true and accurate account of a place that?s meaningful to me. Here?s just a few of my favorite Aussie places that have seen their way into my books:
As an ex-Sydney worker for over 13 years, it seemed obvious to set my first book, Forgotten Marriage (Desire, September 2007), in places I know intimately: the historic The Rocks, Sydney CBD and Coogee Beach. With my second book, Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir (Desire, May 2008), Sydney again became a major feature. And in The Magnate?s Baby Promise (Desire, July 2009), my hero?s apartment was smack-bang in Circular Quay, right next door to the Sydney Opera House. Not to ignore the other states, my current WIP (one of the ?Outback Billionaires and Babies? mini-series, June 2010) is partly set in Canberra.
In particular, Surfers Paradise (Queensland). Family vacations wouldn?t have been complete without an annual trip up to Surfers, Currumbin Bird Sanctuary www.cws.org.au and Seaworld. http://seaworld.myfun.com.au/ In one of my WIPs, I have my hero, Zac Prescott (Cal?s step brother from The Magnate?s Baby Promise), living and working in Surfers Paradise with my heroine, Emily. For another WIP, my heroine resides in the very aptly named Runaway Bay; in another, my hero plans to seduce the heroine at his private Whitsundays island. And in yet another story, my heroine lives in the Central NSW coastal town of The Entrance.
Canberra from Telstra Tower
If I jump in the car, I can be in the bush in around 20 minutes or less. However, my local bush is much different to, say, Victoria?s. Or on the drive down to Canberra ? or across to Dubbo, in Sydney?s far west. So having my heroine in The Magnate?s Baby Promise own a B&B in a small outback country town meant I had to go on a research trip. (note to self: next time, DO NOT DRIVE if accompanied by small impatient child. Take a plane).
Eventually, I?m hoping to use all those other great places I?ve seen around the world, but for now, Australia is still (and probably will always be!) a great source of genuine authentic flavor. Which brings me to my question to you all ? do you have a favorite setting you like to read about? And authors, I?m curious ? have you ever written about a setting you haven?t actually visited?
BIO: British-born, Aussie bred, Paula?s thrilled to be a first-time finalist in RWA?s www.romanceaustralia.com Romantic Book of the Year Award with Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir. Her latest, The Magnate?s Baby Promise is out now. You can visit her at www.paularoe.com