I love to travel. Many of my stories have been inspired by places I’ve lived in or visited ... Venice, Paris, London, Melbourne, the US, the Lake District. I spend a lot of time thinking about the perfect setting and it’s not simply about pretty or interesting backdrops but locations that shine a little light on the characters…creating an environment that helps their story unfold.
Many of my romances feature an heiress or a billionaire, and with that kind of incredible wealth it’s important to sketch a gloriously luxurious setting, one that is glamorous, fabulous, international.
My first novel, The Convenient Bride, was inspired by a trip to Venice where I was entranced and moved almost to tears to see so many gorgeous but decaying historic buildings crumbling into the canals. If I were as rich as the characters in my stories, I would have brought one on the spot and have it restored to its former glory. Long after leaving Venice, its tragic beauty continued to haunt my dreams and so I set The Convenient Bride there, with one of those Venetian gothic buildings playing a special part in the plot.
Being under the hot and harsh spotlights on a reality TV show was the experience that sparked the idea for Seducing the Secret Heiress. I took part in the Australian version of Dragon’s Den and the call for ‘action’ alone was enough to raise my heart rate. Add judges, camera close-ups and a demanding Director, for an experience that was unbearably intense, yet exhilarating. I thought this pressure-cooker environment would make good fodder for a sexy romance. Not to mention that much can happen in a dressing room and those dressing rooms have mirrors, which adds a whole new dimension to a scene.
Parts of Seducing the Secret Heiress take the reader to London. I lived in that amazing city for seven years. The seasons, the parks, the history, the pubs, the incredible mix of people who live there, left an indelible impression. Actually, London pops up a few times in my novels and one day I’d love to live there again. Who knows?
The Love Deception was inspired by my days working in the top end of town in Melbourne – think high-rise corporate offices with stunning views across the city, suits with high heels and stockings, business-class travel, luxury hotels. My heroine didn’t have a chance spending all those long stressful hours locked away in legal meetings with her hot boss in his private office.
A few scenes in The Love Deception are based on the terrifying experience of living through the remnants of a hurricane in North Carolina. A scary night! I’ll never forget the noise. My hero and heroine are in Barbados when they find themselves in the eye of the storm, literally and figuratively. They are only on the island for a very short time before nature unleashes itself and the hurricane hits. Of course I had them return to the island later in the book so they could enjoy everything this tropical paradise had to offer when a category five storm wasn’t causing mayhem. (It’s nice as an author to give your characters a reward when they have worked so hard to deserve happiness).
The core idea for The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love popped into my head after attending a seminar dedicated to saving the world’s Orangutans. The wildlife workers lived in very basic conditions, working in the mud, rain and heat to ‘mother’ the vulnerable baby Orangutans until they could look after themselves – a little like nurturing human babies. When I read an article about a man worth millions who’d designed one of the world’s most successful computer games, I wondered what it would be like if these two people from incredibly different worlds were brought together through a twist of fate that just wouldn’t let them go.
My latest release, Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, was inspired by a trip to a health retreat, an experience that gave me my heroine’s profession. Another trip to France and the UK inspired the lavish, deeply romantic locations in Tempted. Each time I visit Paris I fall under its spell – again. Seeing Versailles for the first time left me in awe of the beauty and romance of France, its history and great art. My heroine, Poppy, feels this too when she visits France for the first time. My billionaire hero of course has seen it all before, but it feels that little bit different now he is with Poppy!
At the moment I’m busy conjuring up my new billionaire novel. The hero and heroine are having a tortured time in a gorgeous old stately home in the UK, complete with a beautiful secret garden. That locked-up walled garden plays an integral role in the twists and turns in the story.
I hope they both find the key!
Is there a place you've visited that you found inspirational? I'd love to know.
Jennifer St George is a romance author whose sexy stories feature courageous, career-minded heroines, strong heroes in glamorous international settings. She has five books published with Penguin's digital-first imprint, Destiny Romance.
Jen, I loved hearing how your experiences in different parts of the world have shaped your books! Setting impacts so much on character that I often find myself deciding on the setting of a book first, before all else. My latest release is set in Munich because I had a chance to visit there last year (and, of course, it blew me away). My April release next year is inspired by my childhood holiday spot, that I unexpectedly visited earlier in the year. Such fun.ReplyDelete
Also, you went on the Australian version of Dragon's Den? Wow! I'd have been shaking in my boots. Go you!
Oh, I was shaking in my boots, Michelle. Being on Dragon's Den was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. They purposefully put hot lights on you to make you sweat!!!Delete
I agree with Michelle 100%, Jen! The way you've used your travel and experiences to inspire your books is brilliant. I'd love to hear more about your Dragon's Den experience. I'd have been shaking in my boots too! You obviously function well under pressure!ReplyDelete
I think I'm very good a faking that I'm functioning well under pressure, Sharon.ReplyDelete
It's shame that Dragon's Den was cancelled here, but the debut show (not the one I was one) was put on at the same time as a Big Brother final, so it just didn't get the viewership. We didn't get invested it on the show, but after the show....
I love reading books that have different settings - I think Seducing the Secret Heiress was one of the first books I'd read which had a Reality TV backdrop - it was great fun!ReplyDelete
So thrilled you read Seducing the Secret Heiress, Stefanie!! It was great fun writing that story.Delete
Hi Jen, what a lovely post. I'm like you. There are so many places I've visited that have inspired books. My current novella - 'Bought by the Italian' is set in the Dolomites at the very north of Italy. I visited there earlier this year and it was the natural setting for this new story. Such fun writing it as it was like visiting it again!ReplyDelete
I so love Italy, Annie. I haven't been to the Dolomites yet but would love to. It's such fun to weave beautiful locations into stories, isn't it.Delete
I have really enjoyed yours stories and the settings these are places that I have never visited and I do love a story that takes me to them although I would one day love to visit them not sure that I will be able to though. I have visited a few islands in the pacific Mystery Island is so lovely but there is nothing there except beuatiful beaches and I have just been to New Zealand and we went through Milford Sound what a majestic place.
I haven't travelled enough to have anywhere inspire me. That said, I can dream about the various places I want to travel... too too many places to list in this message though.ReplyDelete
Hi Jen, I love visiting places through settings in books and often I revisit them in my own stories. I've travelled quite a bit and would love to feature Vietnam and India in some of my stories...hmmm I just have to choose the right plot.....ReplyDelete