Setting adds to a richer reading experience, according to Amanda S. Jones.
“Minutes earlier the glacier had released the clear blue ice with a sound louder than a cannon blast. She had watched in awe as it calved and cascaded into the thin arm of the bay, pushing water onto the glacial plateau, rocking the smaller ice pieces around it. An iceberg had been born before her eyes. Hayley looked toward the maze of islands and coves that stretched along the Inside Passage. These were the moments she lived for – the raw beauty of the wilderness stirred a longing deep inside of her each time she stood in its midst.”
This appears on the first page of my latest book, Alaskan Nights, and is characteristic for how I open my novels. To me, a sense of place plays a key role in my writing. For my Aqua romance travel series, the destination, and the cruise ship itself, is like a character to me. The first book in the series was inspired by a romantic trip to Venice and I return to the entire Mediterranean for the second book and am now taking readers to Alaska.
To me a sense of place isn’t only descriptive, I believe the destination should be integral to the conflict. In Alaskan Nights, for example, the setting becomes a character and a source of interaction and conflict. The protagonist in the series, Hayley; a former environmental reporter, catches her lover in an unethical practice on a whaling excursion. She finds herself in an ethical dilemma: does she expose the man she loved passionately or protect him?
“Trevor had been the same person who said in a photography workshop, ‘I personally would rather spend an entire day watching wildlife, and come home with nothing on my card, and then have manipulated a bird’s environment that might cause it harm’. He had said it, just hours ago. And she had been so in awe by it, how he stood up for wildlife rights in what became a heated debate among the workshop participants. She knew then, in the heart of her hearts, that he was the man for her. That someone so in tune, so dedicated to nature, to a species that couldn’t defend, would certainly be a loyal life partner.”
Could this story have taken place elsewhere? Would it have as much impact? I believe the strong sense of Alaska’s environmentally protected landscape adds a layer to the tension. It’s part of the culture and that’s integral to a sense of place. In Alaskan Nights, this is woven in through the photography workshops, Captain Hallmann’s intimacy with the sea, Chef Amber’s cooking and her connection to food and the land. The setting again, provides depth and another layer to the story, and I believe adds to a richer reading experience. For Alaskan Nights, I hope that the raw beauty of the wilderness resonates long after the last chapter is read.
I’d love to know your thoughts on a sense of place. Do you feel it’s integral to a story? Have you had any special experiences from Alaska, or any travel story you’d like to share? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve been known to name characters after my readers!
After losing her job, Hayley struggles to make ends meet and allows her career status to define her. She finds inspiration in successful photographer Trevor Tott, but their professional aspirations clash when she experiences his questionable ethics along with unwanted advances from her overbearing boss. With the help of the ship’s crew, stunning Alaskan backdrops and a leap of faith, they might find business can be mixed with pleasure.
With cameos from favourite Aqua characters Harry and Casey, Amanda Jones weaves a plot that keeps the pages turning.
Love happens on The Aqua…
Romance author Amanda S. Jones loves travel, chocolate and red wine. You’ll find all of these elements in the books she writes. Her first romance series Aqua takes place on the cruise ship, Aqua, a slow-burning pleasure dome of food and attraction that spurs the reader’s imagination. Each book has exotic locations, sumptuous foods, seduction, enticement and true love, so open the pages and step aboard to see what’s in store for characters with the help of the ship’s crew, a romantic destination and a leap of faith.