Glen Avich is a character in its own right in my books. So many people write in their reviews that they’re happy to be back ‘home’ in Glen Avich, and though it is not a real place, it’s inspired by my own village, Caravino, in Italy.
Caravino is a tiny place at the foot of the Alps – about a thousand people live there. Everyone knows everyone and a lot of us are related one way or another. ‘Newcomers’ stay that way for many generations! Until you truly earn the right to be ‘from’ there. Living in Caravino is like living in an aquarium and everyone will know what you’re up to – which can be a bit suffocating, but it also means that nobody is ever alone, and if you’re in need of anything, half the village will turn up and try to help.
You can always get a chat in the local minuscule shops and every time you go out of your door, there’ll be a mini social event going on. Nobody is in a hurry and everyone has a vegetable garden, which they keep proudly. It’s a very pretty place and full of old houses, which makes it atmospheric and, at times, a bit spooky – if it wasn’t for the sun.
When I started setting novels in Glen Avich, I had a clear idea of its topography – the St Colman Way that leads to the well and the St Colman Gardens, the High Street, the stone bridge over the River Avich, the way to Loch Avich where Ramsay Hall lies and the opposite shore, where Isabella’s house is (you won’t know Isabella yet, she’s a new character!). I know the road that leads to the Green Hat and to the Welly, and beyond them, to the woods; I know Peggy’s shop, the tiny hairdresser and, of course, the coffee shop, La Piazza!
Glen Avich is more than a location – it is, for me, a place of the heart.
Set Me Free
FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF WATCH OVER ME AND TAKE ME HOME. Margherita's marriage is slowly falling apart. Getting pregnant after trying for so long may have been a fabulous surprise for her, but for her husband it was the last straw. When she needs him most, her husband is just not there for her or their children and she realises that they need time apart to figure out where their marriage is going. As she struggles to come to terms with her new life, Margherita decides to leave London and spend the summer in Glen Avich, where her mum and stepdad have just opened a new coffee shop. She needs time away to reconnect with her daughter Lara and sort out her life. But Glen Avich can have a strange effect on people, and when she and Lara start working for Torcuil Ramsay at a rundown local estate, everything begins to change. Margherita finds her heart awakened in a way she never thought possible and Lara begins a new friendship with a mysterious local boy, Mal, which makes her mother feel increasingly uneasy. And just when Margherita is finally beginning to discover who she really is, she finds out how quickly things can change and how hard it can be to make brave choices.
When I tell people the title of my book, more than once the response has been ‘so it’s a children’s’ book then?’ the assumption being that because it has a robot in it must be a book for kids. Boys, more specifically. The fact that it is a book for grown ups and not for little boys seems to perplex some people, and it’s got me wondering why.
I am a fan of campaigns such as ‘Let Toys Be Toys’, and never felt for a moment that robots should be specifically for boys. But as time has gone on, the more robot-related material that has crossed my path the more I’ve realised it often comes with the metatag ‘boys’. Perhaps Tang should have been a girl. Perhaps I have inadvertently perpetuated the status quo.
On the other hand, Tang is a boy because Ben is a boy. And Ben is a boy because I am a girl. I feel more comfortable writing with a male protagonist, which I realize makes me slightly weird, but I think I would struggle to write a female main character. I always worry that she would just be me on a page, not a real character in her own right, and somehow if I write as a man I find it easier to create a more rounded, believable character.
I spend a lot of time around men. I am a gamer: RPG, video and board, which tend towards male company. In previous jobs I have worked around computers, which I found the same. I also practiced aikido for a while – again, mostly men. And I’m a big rugby fan. So I suppose given all this it’s no surprise that I write as a man. It’s a comfort zone thing.
That said, it’s always an absolute pleasure to meet other girls with these interests, and I wish there were more of us. There is an awful long way to go for equality, but campaigns like #HeForShe show us that it’s not a question of one-upmanship for men and women. No one group should seek to exercise dominance over another. There should not be antagonism – we’ll all benefit if there are no eyebrows raised over gender in what we choose to be or do.
Check out my review of A Robot in the Garden.
A Robot in the Garden
A story of the greatest friendship ever assembled.
Ben Chambers wakes up to find something rusty and lost underneath the willow tree in his garden. Refusing to throw it on the skip as his wife Amy advises, he takes it home.
So it’s here, World Book Night 🙂 I was thrilled to be picked this year to be one of the lucky people who was chosen to give away 18 exclusive World Book Night copies of Prime Suspectby Lynda La Plante. It has been an absolutely thrilling experience and I have enjoyed giving books to those who do not read regularly within the community; sharing my love of books and reading with those in my local area.
I would definitely love to be involved again next year.
Were any other bloggers involved? How did you find the experience? Or were you lucky enough to come across a copy of one of these beautiful books? Let us know 🙂
So today on Compelling Reads, it is the turn of book reviewer Louise to be grilled 🙂 Louise guest reviews for various blogs and can be followed on Twitter: @jaustenrulesok
Thank you for taking part Louise 🙂
Tea or coffee? I drink neither so Hot Chocolate.
Something sweet or something savory? I have the sweetest tooth ever and only one filling 🙂
Reading at night, light on or by torchlight? Since having Pippa, I do a lot of reading whilst waiting for her to go to sleep so kindle is precious!!
You’re stranded on a desert island – you have 1 book with you, which book is it & why? The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – such a wonderful, big encompassing book – I could read it many times and find new things each time.
You’re dreaming of walking down the aisle, which fictional character is waiting for you at the alter? Definitely Mr Darcy – I want that library at Pemberley!
Book or Kindle? Heart says book but Kindle is so damn practical.
If you could only choose one book genre to read forever, which would you choose? Just because of the sheer diversity and brilliance, I would have to say YA – romance mystery, fantasy – it’s all there.
First book you remember reading? Think I remember loving the vibrancy and humour of the Meg and Mog books.
hard back or paper back? Paperback – I have puny arms.
What is your favourite bookshop and why? Barter Books second hand bookshop in Northumberland that used to be a train station and where the original Keep Calm and Carry On poster was discovered. It’s a treasure trove of wonderfully old and wonderful books – just wish I lived nearer.
Where is your favourite place to read? On the sofa, under a blanket with nothing to do so it doesn’t matter if I rest my eyes a little.
The sun is shining which surely means summer is on it’s way. So in celebration I thought I would make a little list of the 10 books I am most looking forward to this summer and boy is it a good one. All my favourite authors…… need a few more hours in the day 🙂
Something sweet or something savory? It really depends on my mood, but more savory I guess.
Reading at night, light on or by torchlight? Oh that’s a good question. I’d say light, but the iPad night is also great.
You’re stranded on a desert island – you have 1 book with you, which book is it & why? Only 1?! You can’t do that to me!!! It has to be an Aven Ellis book, because she’s brilliant!It’s not out yet, but The Definition of Icing has it all. Wonderful characters, great storyline, a hockey player with book boyfriend material, hockey and much more <3
You’re dreaming of walking down the aisle, which fictional character is waiting for you at the alter? Oh, that’s a good one. Well, I will get back to The Definition of Icing, Nate Johanson is awesome! He’s caring, sexy, clever, connected to his family, he plays hockey… I could go on and on.
Book or Kindle? Both, but if I’d have to choose I’d pick books. I love having them in my hands, they look pretty in my bookshelf and I feel I have something to hold on to.
If you could only choose one book genre to read forever, which would you choose? Chicklit/Romance, that was easy for once 😉
First book you remember reading? Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I hated reading before that.
Hard back or paper back? Paperback.
What is your favourite bookshop and why? We have great bookshops here, but they don’t have that many English books, so I say Waterstones, I love hanging out in there! I could stay for hours and hours…
Where is your favourite place to read? In winter it’s cuddled up in a warm blanket on my bed. In spring and summer it’s the garden.
Thank you Simona 🙂 and what a beautiful book shelf you have….