By Susan BuchananIt’s fitting that this is international writers month on the blog, as although I’m Scottish and my
I’ve always found it stimulating when reading a book, or watching a movie and discover that I’ve been to the location. It makes the book/movie resonate more with me, whether it’s set in San Francisco, Tokyo or in the Highlands of Scotland. That’s one of the main reasons I include travel and foreign climes in my novels, plus, it adds to the excitement - everyone loves a bit of escapism! And if you haven’t visited the places, I’m told that my novels actually have convinced people they must visit Tuscany or Barcelona. Apart from that, there’s something mysterious about a romance abroad.
I loved writing the Italian scenes in Sign of the Times. I’d spent some time in Tuscany the summer prior to writing the novel and had no idea at that point that Bibbiena would feature in my first novel. But, after visiting the town, it would have been a crime not to. Much of the anecdotal detail actually comes from that villa holiday, including when Holly mistakenly orders 800g of salami instead of 8 slices - not much difference!The panoramas described are those I could see from the villa overlooking the Tuscan countryside and the description of the villa owner was based on a B&B I stayed at on the Amalfi Coast, not Tuscany.
And if I were single, I would love to meet Dario and have him show me his vineyard and discuss those Italian books I had studied at university, which Holly found in the library of his stately home.
When Lucy, Holly’s man-eating sister goes to Lucerne in Switzerland, again I took the description and even the hotel from a business trip I’d been on a few years ago, but can I just clarify, I didn’t get up to any of the shenanigans that Lucy did! When she goes ski-ing and meets Robbie, although I set the scene in Switzerland, I was remembering my one and only ski trip to Austria and modifying some of the details - I really did do that midnight toboggan run - complete with schnapps for Dutch courage, but again, in my case, there was no romantic involvement - but oh the sexual tension in Lucy’s case! Nothing like a bit of après-ski!
The Dating Game continued the travel theme. I wanted to have the 4 girlfriends having a minibreak in a European city. Since I used to live in Barcelona, it was a no-brainer to set it there. I’ve also been back several times in recent years for various festivals and those feature heavily in the novel. And sometimes, as in Gill’s case, romance comes along when you’re least expecting it. From the Sagrada Familia, the fabulous beaches, the Catalan cuisine, the plazas, the shopping, Gaudí, the festivals - Barcelona has it all and I for one wanted to capture that.
I hope that the inclusion of Hong Kong, my favourite Asian location, in my new novel, What If, to be launched later this year, meets with as much approval from readers as the others. Now I wonder where I can set my fourth book...
Learn more about Susan at
Learn more about Susan at