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Tessa Radley | O for a beaker full of the warm South…

October 14, 2008

I wasn’t thinking about Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale when I first started to write MISTAKEN MISTRESS. But when I conceive of a story one of the first things that I have to decide is where to set the book. For me, the atmosphere of the setting will permeate the entire story.

The Saxon Brides is about a family who run a vineyard, Saxon’s Folly. So I knew I wanted the homestead to have a sense of family history and go back at least a couple of generations. I had a great deal of fun researching the locations where I could possibly set the books.

My first thought was of the Napa Valley. I’d read about it, but because I like to be able to visualize the place where the story takes place my big stumbling block was I’d never visited the Napa and I wasn’t going to have time to go stake it out.

Next, I considered the Barossa in Australia. It’s awesome. Named for the Battle

of Barrosa which Colonel Light, Surveyor General of the day, fought in during 1811, it boasts some of the oldest existing Shiraz vines in the world.

And then of course there is the Loire Valley with its fertile valley and rich history…those chateaux, the Frenchmen, the romance…it nearly won.

I finally settled on the Hawkes Bay region in New Zealand simply because it is one of my favorite places on earth. I adore the art deco jewel that is the town of Napier. And it’s a place I’ve taken to visiting fairly frequently so when I close my eyes I can visualize the hills, the sea, the sky and the vines.

Against this background I could see Alyssa, the heroine of MISTAKEN MISTRESS, striding up to the Victorian homestead and gate-crashing a masked ball at the winery. I could imagine the reaction of Joshua, my hero, to this woman who wasn’t leaving until she’d gotten what she came for.

Do you have a favorite place? One that you escape to when you lean back and close your eyes? And if you could choose to visit a region anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Once you’ve posted your comment you might want to check out my October contest being run by Fresh Fiction for a chance to win a $15 Barnes & Noble Gift card and my BILLIONAIRE HEIRS trilogy. Click to read an excerpt from my October book MISTAKEN MISTRESS.

Tessa Radley

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