12 June 2018

As an author of escapist fiction, one of the questions I get asked the most is: how do you choose where to set your books? The truth is, there is no simple answer. I chose Zakynthos for the setting of my debut novel My Map of You purely because it’s my favourite place in the whole world – in that sense, the place became the story, as opposed to the other way around. When it came to novel number two, however, I had the bones of my plot before I picked Prague as the setting and did so specifically because there were elements in that city that I knew would benefit the story I wanted to tell, and the themes I wanted to explore.

One Thousand Stars and You began as one simple thought swirling around in my head: what if you met a person who changed your life in a single moment? The idea was in there because I had experienced that very same thing myself; I met someone who changed the way I felt about the world, and my future, after just a few moments. Sounds bananas, but there it is, and once that seed was sown, the characters of Max and Alice began to grow from it.

I soon knew that I wanted to place both my leading protagonists into a lively environment that teemed with potential for adventure, a setting that would challenge as well as enthral them. I had been to Sri Lanka once before, with an ex-boyfriend, but the two of us had only really skimmed the surface of the country. I had bathed an elephant, taken a train along the coast, held a baby crocodile and got a real taste of the colour and chaos of the place. When I decided to go back and delve further, however, this time I scaled a mountain, watched wild elephants feeding their babies, learned how to drive a tuk tuk (it’s harder than it looks, trust me!) and danced on a beach under the stars. And then there was the weather, which at times made me feel as if I was at a rave with Mother Nature and someone had spiked her drink!

Goyambokka Beach

Goyambokka Beach

Sri Lanka is a place of wonder, and there is so much there to write about – so many sounds and smells and sights. For a writer like me, who enjoys evoking the senses of her readers, it is a dream come true, and I sincerely hope that I have managed to do it justice. Now that the novel is written and about to arrive into the world (gulp!), it’s impossible to imagine the story taking place anywhere else. Sri Lanka gave the book its beautiful title, provided ample drama, humour and an abundance of monkeys and elephants, which is surely a fact that can never be overlooked, right? I know that when I was there, I was inspired. But not only that – I was also moved, and prompted to think about my own life, and how I wanted my future to look. As with all my novels, there is so much of me and my experience within the pages, and I promise that I will never lose sight of that, and how important it is.

A mother and baby elephant

A mother and baby elephant

Galle Port

Galle Port

Sunset on the beach

Sunset on the beach

If you’re interested in my research trips abroad and what I get up to while I’m on them, the best thing to do is follow me on InstagramFacebook and Twitter – but mostly Instagram. Whenever I’m away primarily for novel research purposes, I always include the hashtag #BroomsBookTrip, so you know what to search for! I won’t reveal the next location quite yet, but I will say that my flight is booked for the 1st of November . . .

View from Sigiriya Rock

View from Sigiriya Rock

Dambulla Cave Temples

Dambulla Cave Temples

A cheeky monkey

A cheeky monkey

Related articles