Friday, June 3, 2016

Mandy Baggot: Location, Location, Location!

Today we welcome the fabulous Mandy Baggot to the blog to tell us about the exotic and exciting places she visits in her books.

At the moment I am proud to be 'Escapism Girl' for Bookouture. I am all about the lovely locations, setting the scene for a perfect summer or winter romance. From Basingstoke to La Manga, Nashville to New York and of course my beloved Greece! I’ve written stories set in some fantastic destinations. So, does location really matter? YES!

There is no doubt in my mind that your setting is another character in your book. Use it! Readers want to believe they are there with the main players, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel – the sun on their face, the snow whipping around their coat, etc. No one wants to read a summer romance where no one mentions the white sand and the azure sea or the flowers in bloom on the terracotta terraces. The same goes for a Christmas read - it has to be cold, snowing and there must be fairy lights. Your description of the setting is going to make or break a book with a seasonal theme.

So how do you get it right? Research! I would love to say that I’ve been to every single place I’ve written about, but that would involve me having lots of money and the time to jet off to them. Make You Tube your new best friend!

When I wrote RoNA shortlisted novel, One Wish in Manhattan, I had never been to New York. But Christmas in New York is special, readers love it, and I had to do my research right. I looked up street maps, I watched You Tube videos tourists had taken just walking down the streets of NYC, so I could capture the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. I looked at photographs, I spoke to friends who had been to New York, I went on Pinterest. I did everything I possibly could to ensure I wrote the best, most authentic book possible, knowing that quite a number of readers reading it would have been to New York!
Corfu on the other hand… this is my go-to place for holidays. I adore the Greek island and as I visit at least twice a year there are endless opportunities for research. My latest summer read, Those Summer Nights, is set in the north of Corfu, my area of choice for my breaks. However, I didn’t want these regions to feel stale or repetitive to my readers. So, back in October, I insisted my husband took us over to the west coast of the island to Arillas and Agios Stefanos. Arillas was actually suggested to me by a member of the Corfu for You Facebook group as a potential location for my books. Use your friends, they know what they are talking about!

And talking of friends… the fictional restaurant in Those Summer Nights was inspired by a real restaurant!

Back in October 2015 I was asked if I would like to do a book signing of my novel, Truly Madly Greekly, at a newly opened tea-rooms and restaurant on Acharavi beach front called Lavender. I jumped at the chance and found myself not only with a great opportunity to meet new readers in Corfu doing this event, but to get some fabulous new friends in the form of Michelle and Lee Chapman and Melinda and Andy Jacobs.

After a successful signing amid high tea that could have been served up at the Ritz, Mr Big and I went back for dinner. And, as I was stuffing my face with Greek delights and Metaxa and Coke, a kitten called Eric winding itself round my feet, gazing at the most perfect sunset I had ever seen, the story for Those Summer Nights was born! New friends, new novel inspiration and a perfect Greek setting. In short, it really is all about that base! Give your story an amazing backdrop and you won’t go wrong!

About Mandy:
Mandy Baggot is an award-winning writer of romantic comedies, chick-lit and contemporary romance. She is represented by Kate Nash of The Kate Nash Literary Agency. In February 2016 her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Novel of the Year award. Previously she won the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK's Festival of Romance and has scooped Top Ten Reads/Book of the Year places from a number of UK book bloggers.

Amazon UK 

Thank you for your informative and entertaining post, Mandy, and good luck with your writing.

This interview was brought to you by Helena Fairfax on behalf for 'The RNA Blogging Team'
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@juliawildauthor said...

Can almost feel the hot sun at your book signing,Mandy. Lovely blog, thanks for sharing xxx

Rae Cowie said...

Gosh, Mandy - you make me want to pack my bags and jet off to Corfu! What a wonderful selection of locations you use in your writing - must keep the research fresh and interesting? : )