As anyone familiar with my work will know, I like to either set my stories in Scotland, or feature Scotland in my work in some way. There’s one obvious reason for that. They say you should write what you know, and I was born here and have lived here all my life. But there’s more to it than that.
Scotland, like anywhere else, has its moments, but there are some parts of this landscape that really are breathtaking. From where I live, an hour in the car takes me into the Scottish Highlands, but just five minutes brings me to a perfect stretch of beach I could happily spend an hour lost to my own thoughts on.
The beach I’m referring to features in one of my stories. Sort of. I took some artistic liberties with the location of the town and the fictional Caledonian Hotel that feature in A Secret Love, but the description of the beach itself is drawn entirely from the one nearest where I live.
Similarly, Port In A Storm, features a different beach, located a similar distance from where I live. When Alex is realising he has made a terrible mistake in not running away with Jake he takes his – slightly inebriated self – off for a midnight paddle where he vents his frustrations on a few unsuspecting waves. It’s the little details a writer can provide about locations that I think make stories come to life.
I was inspired to write Taste In Men when I was writing The Bucket List. The Bucket List takes place in Glasgow, and at an outdoor activity centre on Loch Lomond run by main character Blake. I really enjoyed writing the scenes around Loch Lomond. I liked watching Kade, my other main character, feel out of his depth as Blake encouraged him into a kayak in the middle of November. But I also loved the sense of adventure that comes with a landscape like that. When you’re out in the wilderness, away from what you know, you have the freedom to behave like a different person, and that was something I wanted to explore in Taste In Men.
Taste In Men also takes place at an outdoor activity centre – there are quite a lot of them here in Scotland – although this time the story is set near Loch Tay. Taylor Dale is working his two weeks’ notice and is disappointed to have been included on a team-building weekend when he is so close to leaving the company.
Unlike Kade in The Bucket List, Taylor isn’t outside his comfort zone with the activity side of things (although chucking himself off a cliff ins’t exactly his idea of fun). Taylor’s problem is that he wishes he had quit his job without working his notice. He’s ready to start his new life, a life he’s worked very hard for, and he doesn’t want anything getting in the way of his plans.
The idea of being able to behave slightly differently when you’re effectively in the middle of nowhere, is what came into play for me in Taste In Men.
Taylor finds himself developing an attraction to Charles, a man who is definitely not his type, and that attraction leads to Taylor doing things and taking risks he would normally never dream of. The settings – from the edge of a deserted loch to a clearing in the forest – allow Taylor and Charles some privacy do to some exploring of a different nature and there’s plenty of fresh air to keep Taylor awake to the possible ramifications of his actions.
It’s a fun read if I do say so myself, and Loch Tay is a great location, both for a book and for a holiday. If you ever get the chance to check it out, I urge you to do so. You won’t regret it!
TASTE IN MEN is available from all good Ebook retailers now.