Making notes: From Bondi to the Blue Mosque

They say criminals often  return to the scene of the crime. Well, maybe authors do too.

Why else am I standing in 27-degree  sunshine  on the promenade at Bondi  – Sydney’s iconic beach – watching the surf pound in along a kilometre of golden sand.

Oh, I remember now. It’s mid-winter in Vancouver, where the skies are rainy and cold. But there’s another reason. At the other end of the beach – I can see it from where I am standing – is the exact spot where the heroine of my book meets her future lover, a chance encounter that changes both their lives.

This is one of the joys of writing fiction. It’s not only your story to tell, but you can set the action anywhere you want. I have been coming to Australia for more than 40 years and I felt confident setting part of Spank in Sydney, a city I know well.

When I was first married , more than 40 years ago, I worked for  spell at the Sunday Australian. My day started with a 40-minute crossing ferry crossing of Sydney Harbour—from the red rooftops of Manly that crowd down to the water,  to the soaring white sails of the fabled Opera House. What a way to start the day!

Next summer I plan on going to Istanbul and you can bet that city will be featured in my next novel. Perhaps it will be the colour and clamour of the Grand Bazaar, or the towering beauty of the Blue Mosque that will inspire me; I will  make careful note of the people, streetscapes, the sights and smells of the city—all the little things that add authenticity to any narrative.

This is of paramount  importance, especially to readers who are familiar with the setting. I had a reader who, rather than commenting on what I hope are toe-curling sex scenes or the off-the-wall humour, said it was obvious I had lived in the cities I had written about.

And do you know what? I was delighted  to hear it.

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