Location is an essential element of my books. Not just mine, all Triskele Books make settings paramount. Our tagline says it all – Time and Place.

I have reflected on the influence of place, and why each country, city or landscape was appropriate for each book.  For books one, two and three, I stuck with areas I knew well.  In four and five, much research went into regions I’d only passed through. In book six, I mixed both.

Behind Closed Doors is all about wealthy unscrupulous businessmen and the difference between law and justice. I opted to set it in Switzerland with all its beauty, individuality and stubborn peculiarities.

The story required a financial centre and a culture which left my protagonist uncertain and isolated. Hence Zürich. The city is beautiful and peaceful, yet wields immense invisible power, behind closed doors.


London shares the stage with Wales for Raw Material. The UK capital provides a wonderful variety of experience for those who can afford it and a grinding rat race for those who can’t.

For someone preying on the latter, the London underworld was ideal. The darkness and the bright lights of the city work in parallel with the wild, remote coastline of Pembrokeshire. This book is all about watching and the danger of covetous eyes.


Tread Softly takes place in Spain, more specifically Rioja country and the city of Vitoria. Beatrice is on sabbatical, enjoying gourmet food when she stumbles upon a story of wine fraud. The landscapes of this region are nothing short of breathtaking, especially at harvest time.

As for its wines and cuisine, the research was a joy. Certain elements of Spanish/Basque culture suited my characters, my antagonist in particular.


The Greek islands and a cruise ship form the backdrop for Cold Pressed. Guided by a local detective, Beatrice hops between Santorini, Crete and Rhodes and explores the reality of life beyond tourist brochures.

Open seas and glorious islands juxtaposed against the claustrophobia of a floating hotel proved the perfect balance for this tale of old, cold vengeance.


Human Rites plays out in Germany at Christmastime.

The art crime thread leads us from Berlin to Hamburg. The stalker strand happens on the island of Sylt, in the North Sea, just off the Danish-German border.

In the summer, Sylt is a rich kids’ playground. Which is why I set the book in winter, when the coast is wild and empty, and civilisation seems very far away.


The last in the series, Bad Apples, I’m on familiar ground: Portugal.

Some elements are old friends, such as my beloved city of Porto, azuleijo tiles that tell stories, and warm, easy-going people. However the natural park of Peneda-Gerês, and the cities of Braga and Lisbon required a fresh look. Hardly a chore.

The end result, I hope, is an innocent, hypnotic blend of atmosphere, smells, sounds and tastes to lull the reader into ignoring the rotten element in plain sight.

Get the boxset of books 1-3 here.

All images courtesy of Julie Lewis

 

 

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A writing retreat – leave the daily grind behind, spend your days learning and discussing with fellow writers, soak up the scenery and let your imagination out to play.

Here’s a collection of some superb writing events happening in beautiful locations. All offer expert writing tuition, an opportunity to cast off responsibility and a guaranteed creative shot in the arm.

Enjoy.

A Chapter Away (Gascony, France) Courses available June and July

Do you wish you could escape from your everyday life to write?
A Chapter Away is a great place to start, or to continue, your incredible journey as a writer. Whether your ambition is to leave a private MEMOIR for your family, to bring together an anthology of POETRY for a loved one, or to publish a NOVEL for millions of readers the world over to discover, our courses offer you ‘time out’ and the expertise to set you on the right path, with the help of other writers, poets, publishers and literary agents.

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Photo by JJ Marsh

WriteCon16 (Zürich, Switzerland) – 21 May

WriteCon16 is all about making it happen. Hands-on and practical. Whichever event you choose, you’ll walk away with concrete, tailored advice from the experts. Right in the heart of the city so while your head is buzzing with ideas, you can explore the sights or simply sit by the lake and stare at the mountains.

  • How to Publish a Book, with Jessica Bell
  • How to Market a Book, with Helen Lewis
Photo by Libby O'Loghlin

Photo by Libby O’Loghlin

TLC Adventures (Andalucia, Spain) 10-16 September

TLC Literary Adventures offers an environment where inspiration and improvisation meet, in the company of some of our best-known writers. You will have access to world-class teaching, get a chance to work, read, listen, learn and relax in a stunning setting which will open the mind and senses.

Ty Newydd (Wales, UK) Courses available year round

 Specialises in residential creative writing courses. Every week a new group of individuals spend time together under the tutelage of professional writers, taking part in workshops and one-to-one tutorials, enjoying readings and basking in the inspirational setting of Tŷ Newydd. Participants also help in the kitchen, where home-made meals are prepared with local ingredients.

summer retreats ty newydd richard outram

Photo by Richard Outram

L’Atelier Writers (Villeferry, France). 5-10 June

A fantastic experience of sublime French food, camaraderie, craft, and inspirational productivity. The space provides privacy for writing and also comfortable common areas with verandas, gardens, libraries, and a reserved meeting space for L’ATELIER workshops, meals, editing consultations, and seminars. Full room and board is included, but access to a kitchenette allows guests even more flexibility.

Venice Writing Retreat (Venice, Italy) 12-15 September

With Roz Morris and Words of a Feather, this course is for committed writers who want to hone their self-editing skills, breathe life into an abandoned manuscript, assess a first draft, give a book a professional MOT before approaching agents/self-publishing and enjoy the delights of Venice.

Photo by think rorbot

Photo by think rorbot

La Poterie Writers (Loire Valley, France) 23-30 June

The best of “retreat”& “workshop”: rigorous group discussion of your manuscript, sessions on writing craft & publishing, ample daily solitude, one-on-one conferences, local excursions, and gourmet meals — all in an inspiring setting.

Skyros Writing Holidays (Skyros, Greece) Courses available all summer

If you’re a creative and active person, in Skyros you’ll have the opportunity to explore your talents, learn something new, expand the range of your interests and bask in the joys and pleasures of it. Holiday activities and courses are always pleasant and enjoyable, fun to attend. If you prefer, of course, you can just relax, unwind, share a drink with like-minded people and enjoy nature at its best.

The Skyros holiday resorts are community-based. The community – informal, friendly and relaxed – thrives on diversity but it also brings people together in a way daily life rarely does. Enjoy the freedom to be who you really are.

lake

Photo by JJ Marsh

Writing at the Castle (SW France) 2-8 July

Principally for writers of fiction who have a manuscript in preparation or completed and would like to benefit from workshops and one-to-one support towards publication.  It is an opportunity to connect with other writers, get practical insights, tips and contacts and learn new skills. We will also cover the process of selecting, commissioning and publishing manuscripts through the traditional literary agent/publisher route and through self-publishing.

Write Time Retreats (Switzerland) 21-27 May

  • 6 nights’ accommodation in the Hornberg Hotel
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner (including vegetarian options, drinks not included)
  • Full use of the hotel facilities, including seminar rooms, swimming pool and saunas
  • 5 Creative writing workshops (including a workshop with guest writer)
  • 5 Editorial meetings
  • 5 Literary Salons
  • 45 minute, one-to-one, personalized consultation with tutor
swiss view

Photo by JD Lewis