Monday, 7 July 2014

Sense of Place By Janet Quin-Harkin/ Rhys Bowen

On the blog today, I am pleased to welcome author Janet Quin-Harkin, who you may also know as mystery writer, Rhys Bowen. Janet’s YA book series, Heartbreak Cafe, which was really popular in the 80’s, is being republished, with the first book No Experience Required coming out today!
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I’m the sort of person with a keen sense of place. I was born with a wanderlust. I’m told that when I was two I was taken to the seaside for the first time. I started to walk toward the waves. My mother watched to see what I would do. I kept on walking. When I was up to my neck she rescued me. Who knows where I was heading?
When I was twelve my parents put me on a train in London to travel to friends in Vienna. A train, a boat, and an overnight train by myself. And nobody worried. Since then I’ve travelled the world, relishing in each new place that I visit.
So it’s little wonder that sense of place is an important element of all my books.  And in the case of both my current mystery series I am dealing with not just a place but a time in history.  I want my readers not to be told about early Twentieth Century New York. I want them to be there, to know what the sights, smells, sounds feel like. I go to New York frequently and walk the streets that my heroine, Molly Murphy, walked.  I soak in the atmosphere of the city. I make use of the five senses to recreate my own experiences.
I do the same with my Royal Spyness books, gathering new experiences every time I return home to England. It’s the little things that create a place, not grand descriptions but the sound of a ball on a cricket bat on a summer afternoon, the hum of bees on roses, the smell of newly mown grass . Any of those things and I’m back in the English countryside.
The same was definitely true when I wrote my teenage series called Heartbreak Café. It was the setting that drew me to the story. I remember standing on that beach in California, looking at a couple of surfers walking toward a beachfront café and thinking “wouldn’t it be fun to set a book here? It’s a place outside of society’s rules, its own world, a place one can escape to.”  I’d drive down the California coast
to it, time and time again, feeling the salty breeze in my face and hearing the gulls crying overhead.  I still get chills when I think about it now.  Special places do that to me.
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Check out the fantastic website for the book, which goes live today.
Here is the blog tour for the rest of week. So you won’t miss a stop!
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