Location as character in fiction

Last week, my guest post on locations in fiction featured on the fabulous Lucy Mitchell Author blog and I’d like to share further insights about two of my books’ settings (not the privacy and hardware malarkey we’re so used to in the 21st century) with you.

Two prominent places appear in my travel romance series, Love is Everything.  Nashville, Tennessee and Newquay, North Cornwall.  The first time I visited both places I knew I was home, yet I’m neither a musician nor a surfer. 

What is it about a location that calls us home? What is it about location that writers need to consider?

As a child growing up in England I loved stories and books.  Then I discovered the power of three-minute stories on my Mum’s country music cassette: Glen Campbell, Billie Jo Spears, Dolly Parton.  Don’t worry, I didn’t abandon the books, but I began a fascination with the power held in a song’s story that I still have – and I am so thankful I can exercise in my role as reviewer and interviewer for Lyric Magazine.  Songwriters have to tell their beginning, middle and end (anyway they like), in rhythm, with a chorus.  There’s little room for error, although plenty of people still make them. 

Many, many, many more do not and they’re the ones I play on repeat.

Nashville, to mix my music cities, is in my soul.  When I finally walked along Broadway at the annual 50k strong CMAFest in 2019…well, I’ll leave it to you to imagine how giddy I was. 

It was only natural that Nashville would become a character in my novels – in the first as a destination potentially destined to keep the main characters from being together, and in the second as a home provider and a reason to leave, for my new major characters. 

But I’m the writer, not the city, and I have shelved Nashville for the final book in my trilogy – I can’t let her take over Cassie’s story, but I may let Nashville loose on readers again in another novella.  I’ll likely have no choice.

Newquay, North Cornwall

This English seaside town is a lot closer to home – with the right country CD I can make it to the surf capital of Fistral beach in around two plays (90 minutes). True story: I listened to Logan Brill’s Walk of Shame song for the whole return journey, when it was released.  

I’ve managed to visit North Cornwall more often than Nashville, but I only need a handful of day trips to know I’m home.  The colours and the space are incredible in this town that respects both music and the ocean – the annual 50k capacity Boardmasters Festival has run its surf festival since the 80s and has been celebrating music since the early 21st century. 

No matter how hectic life is, a visit to either Fistral beach or nearby Watergate Bay, is rejuvenating, any time of the year.  Newquay was always going to feature in my novels, more so in my second, Everything and Nothing, as a place to heal and connect for my main characters.  I suspect that Cassie, in Everything For Her (due for release September 2021) will need to retreat to Newquay at some point to take care of her heart.

Plus, Fistral’s surf makes a unique opportunity for book promotion!

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