Where in the World are You?

John_C._Munro_off_Hong_KongNicola here. I've been away travelling for the last couple of weeks and (hopefully!) just got home today with piles of washing to do and (again, hopefully!) lots of lovely memories which I can turn into a blog post or two to share in the future. In the meantime, however, I'm calling up a short, updated Wench classic post from nine years ago. How the time flies! It seems appropriate, though as it's all about travel, whether in real life or via our reading. So, step back in time to 2014:

"There’s a meme that was going around on Facebook a while ago that proved very popular. It asks: “You have been transported to the location in the last book you read. Where are you?” The answers flood in, from Scotland to the West Indies, from the New York of the future to London in 1515 and all times and places in between.

This meme set me thinking about world building, creating a setting that is real and vivid enough to make readers believe in it, literally to be transported there in their imaginations. Whether Balnakeil house
it is the fantasy world of a paranormal novel or the literally out-of-this world creation of science fiction, the writer faces the challenge of making it real for the reader. This happens in historical fiction as well, of course. We have a framework within which we set our stories; the era, the politics, the social history, fashions, etiquette etc and from within all that detail we craft a world that is compelling, a world which makes the reader feel that they are stepping back in time.

Until recently I had never really thought about the way in which writing a contemporary novel also requires world building. It wasn’t that I had assumed that because you were writing in the present that everything would already be “real.” Clearly it’s not as simple as that. A writer still needs to create a place that is vivid and enthralling. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I love Mary Stewart’s novels. The way in which she evokes a place in just a few brief lines is wonderful:

9780340043530-uk“I met him in the street called Straight.

I had come out of the dark shop doorway, into the dazzle of the Damascus sun my arms full of silks.” Mary Stewart, The Gabriel Hounds.

And I’m already there. I can feel the heat of the sun, hear the sounds of the market and feel the brush of the silk against my arm. I’ve stepped into that world.

Writing timeslip presents a different challenge, that of creating a world where readers can suspend disbelief and step into the magic. Here my mentor is Daphne Du Maurier, another author who creates the most magnificent worlds. Frenchman’s Creek is a historical novel and yet it starts in the present. The reader literally travels back in time, dropping in for a cup of tea in the farmhouse kitchen that was one part of the old manor house, travelling up the creek with a solitary yachtsman in his dingy.

“A forgotten century peers out of dust and cobwebs… All the whispers and echoes from the past that is gone teem into the sleeper’s brain and he is 84573 with them and part of them…” Daphne Du Maurier, Frenchman’s Creek.

By the time I have finished that first chapter I have travelled back in time three hundred and fifty years in my imagination and I am there in Cornwall on the banks of Frenchman’s Creek in the seventeenth century, waiting for the pirate ship to arrive!

So back to the meme, if you would like to join in.

You have been transported to the location in the last book you read or the one you are currently reading. Where are you, who are you with, and what is it like?

Alternatively, is there a line from a book that always succeeds in taking you straight into the time and place the story is set, and making you feel you are actually there?

150 thoughts on “Where in the World are You?”

  1. Oh, that would be 1892, Bombay, India – living with a Parsee family. I just finished Nev March’s Murder in Old Bombay. It was a fun little mystery and sent me down a rabbit hole about the British Raj and India’s independence.

    Reply
  2. Oh, that would be 1892, Bombay, India – living with a Parsee family. I just finished Nev March’s Murder in Old Bombay. It was a fun little mystery and sent me down a rabbit hole about the British Raj and India’s independence.

    Reply
  3. Oh, that would be 1892, Bombay, India – living with a Parsee family. I just finished Nev March’s Murder in Old Bombay. It was a fun little mystery and sent me down a rabbit hole about the British Raj and India’s independence.

    Reply
  4. Oh, that would be 1892, Bombay, India – living with a Parsee family. I just finished Nev March’s Murder in Old Bombay. It was a fun little mystery and sent me down a rabbit hole about the British Raj and India’s independence.

    Reply
  5. Oh, that would be 1892, Bombay, India – living with a Parsee family. I just finished Nev March’s Murder in Old Bombay. It was a fun little mystery and sent me down a rabbit hole about the British Raj and India’s independence.

    Reply
  6. Sitting in the snow by a dying campfire, in an abandoned camp waiting for a terrible death. Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier, fantasy of war between the Ugaro (winter people) and Lau (summer people) Tuyo is a man sacrificed to the enemy to save the rest of the war band.
    Rachel Neumeier is very good at fantasy world building. I also recently read her first SF No Foreign Sky where I was slammed onto the command deck of a spaceship under attack by enemy Disks and Blades.

    Reply
  7. Sitting in the snow by a dying campfire, in an abandoned camp waiting for a terrible death. Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier, fantasy of war between the Ugaro (winter people) and Lau (summer people) Tuyo is a man sacrificed to the enemy to save the rest of the war band.
    Rachel Neumeier is very good at fantasy world building. I also recently read her first SF No Foreign Sky where I was slammed onto the command deck of a spaceship under attack by enemy Disks and Blades.

    Reply
  8. Sitting in the snow by a dying campfire, in an abandoned camp waiting for a terrible death. Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier, fantasy of war between the Ugaro (winter people) and Lau (summer people) Tuyo is a man sacrificed to the enemy to save the rest of the war band.
    Rachel Neumeier is very good at fantasy world building. I also recently read her first SF No Foreign Sky where I was slammed onto the command deck of a spaceship under attack by enemy Disks and Blades.

    Reply
  9. Sitting in the snow by a dying campfire, in an abandoned camp waiting for a terrible death. Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier, fantasy of war between the Ugaro (winter people) and Lau (summer people) Tuyo is a man sacrificed to the enemy to save the rest of the war band.
    Rachel Neumeier is very good at fantasy world building. I also recently read her first SF No Foreign Sky where I was slammed onto the command deck of a spaceship under attack by enemy Disks and Blades.

    Reply
  10. Sitting in the snow by a dying campfire, in an abandoned camp waiting for a terrible death. Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier, fantasy of war between the Ugaro (winter people) and Lau (summer people) Tuyo is a man sacrificed to the enemy to save the rest of the war band.
    Rachel Neumeier is very good at fantasy world building. I also recently read her first SF No Foreign Sky where I was slammed onto the command deck of a spaceship under attack by enemy Disks and Blades.

    Reply
  11. I just finished a really good fantasy that I recommend.
    I’m in an alternate north America (settled by Norsemen). It’s the latter 1800s, and I’m with Anequs, a young indigenous woman, and her dragon. We’re at her very proper Anglish dragon school, but I hope to visit her village where the food sounds a whole lot better.
    To Shape a Dragon’s Breath: The First Book of Nampeshiweisit by Moniquill Blackgoose.

    Reply
  12. I just finished a really good fantasy that I recommend.
    I’m in an alternate north America (settled by Norsemen). It’s the latter 1800s, and I’m with Anequs, a young indigenous woman, and her dragon. We’re at her very proper Anglish dragon school, but I hope to visit her village where the food sounds a whole lot better.
    To Shape a Dragon’s Breath: The First Book of Nampeshiweisit by Moniquill Blackgoose.

    Reply
  13. I just finished a really good fantasy that I recommend.
    I’m in an alternate north America (settled by Norsemen). It’s the latter 1800s, and I’m with Anequs, a young indigenous woman, and her dragon. We’re at her very proper Anglish dragon school, but I hope to visit her village where the food sounds a whole lot better.
    To Shape a Dragon’s Breath: The First Book of Nampeshiweisit by Moniquill Blackgoose.

    Reply
  14. I just finished a really good fantasy that I recommend.
    I’m in an alternate north America (settled by Norsemen). It’s the latter 1800s, and I’m with Anequs, a young indigenous woman, and her dragon. We’re at her very proper Anglish dragon school, but I hope to visit her village where the food sounds a whole lot better.
    To Shape a Dragon’s Breath: The First Book of Nampeshiweisit by Moniquill Blackgoose.

    Reply
  15. I just finished a really good fantasy that I recommend.
    I’m in an alternate north America (settled by Norsemen). It’s the latter 1800s, and I’m with Anequs, a young indigenous woman, and her dragon. We’re at her very proper Anglish dragon school, but I hope to visit her village where the food sounds a whole lot better.
    To Shape a Dragon’s Breath: The First Book of Nampeshiweisit by Moniquill Blackgoose.

    Reply
  16. Recently been on Harmony with dust bunnies –Amanda Quick’s
    Sweetwater and the Witch. In New York City with a reporter and FBI agents in Vortex by Catherine Coulter. Also been reading about misbehaving Justices of the Peace in Georgian England.

    Reply
  17. Recently been on Harmony with dust bunnies –Amanda Quick’s
    Sweetwater and the Witch. In New York City with a reporter and FBI agents in Vortex by Catherine Coulter. Also been reading about misbehaving Justices of the Peace in Georgian England.

    Reply
  18. Recently been on Harmony with dust bunnies –Amanda Quick’s
    Sweetwater and the Witch. In New York City with a reporter and FBI agents in Vortex by Catherine Coulter. Also been reading about misbehaving Justices of the Peace in Georgian England.

    Reply
  19. Recently been on Harmony with dust bunnies –Amanda Quick’s
    Sweetwater and the Witch. In New York City with a reporter and FBI agents in Vortex by Catherine Coulter. Also been reading about misbehaving Justices of the Peace in Georgian England.

    Reply
  20. Recently been on Harmony with dust bunnies –Amanda Quick’s
    Sweetwater and the Witch. In New York City with a reporter and FBI agents in Vortex by Catherine Coulter. Also been reading about misbehaving Justices of the Peace in Georgian England.

    Reply
  21. Nicola-I just finished Kelly Hunter’s Cinderella and the Outback Billionaire. Not giving any spoilers here-but no one had to get measured for a
    glass slipper. There was, however, a monster of a sandstorm. I could absolutely feel dust everywhere. Kelly certainly knows her way around a sandstorm. But for the book that has provided me with the most sense of place, I would have to cite Mary Stewart’s Madam, Will You Talk? This romantic suspense (gothic) introduced me to Provence, Avignon and even Chateu D’If. I’ve never forgotten my “trip” to France.

    Reply
  22. Nicola-I just finished Kelly Hunter’s Cinderella and the Outback Billionaire. Not giving any spoilers here-but no one had to get measured for a
    glass slipper. There was, however, a monster of a sandstorm. I could absolutely feel dust everywhere. Kelly certainly knows her way around a sandstorm. But for the book that has provided me with the most sense of place, I would have to cite Mary Stewart’s Madam, Will You Talk? This romantic suspense (gothic) introduced me to Provence, Avignon and even Chateu D’If. I’ve never forgotten my “trip” to France.

    Reply
  23. Nicola-I just finished Kelly Hunter’s Cinderella and the Outback Billionaire. Not giving any spoilers here-but no one had to get measured for a
    glass slipper. There was, however, a monster of a sandstorm. I could absolutely feel dust everywhere. Kelly certainly knows her way around a sandstorm. But for the book that has provided me with the most sense of place, I would have to cite Mary Stewart’s Madam, Will You Talk? This romantic suspense (gothic) introduced me to Provence, Avignon and even Chateu D’If. I’ve never forgotten my “trip” to France.

    Reply
  24. Nicola-I just finished Kelly Hunter’s Cinderella and the Outback Billionaire. Not giving any spoilers here-but no one had to get measured for a
    glass slipper. There was, however, a monster of a sandstorm. I could absolutely feel dust everywhere. Kelly certainly knows her way around a sandstorm. But for the book that has provided me with the most sense of place, I would have to cite Mary Stewart’s Madam, Will You Talk? This romantic suspense (gothic) introduced me to Provence, Avignon and even Chateu D’If. I’ve never forgotten my “trip” to France.

    Reply
  25. Nicola-I just finished Kelly Hunter’s Cinderella and the Outback Billionaire. Not giving any spoilers here-but no one had to get measured for a
    glass slipper. There was, however, a monster of a sandstorm. I could absolutely feel dust everywhere. Kelly certainly knows her way around a sandstorm. But for the book that has provided me with the most sense of place, I would have to cite Mary Stewart’s Madam, Will You Talk? This romantic suspense (gothic) introduced me to Provence, Avignon and even Chateu D’If. I’ve never forgotten my “trip” to France.

    Reply
  26. I love Kelly’s books – will look out for that one.
    Mary Stewart really was a genius at creating a sense of place, wasn’t she. I’ve been desperate to visit those places ever since I read the book. One day!

    Reply
  27. I love Kelly’s books – will look out for that one.
    Mary Stewart really was a genius at creating a sense of place, wasn’t she. I’ve been desperate to visit those places ever since I read the book. One day!

    Reply
  28. I love Kelly’s books – will look out for that one.
    Mary Stewart really was a genius at creating a sense of place, wasn’t she. I’ve been desperate to visit those places ever since I read the book. One day!

    Reply
  29. I love Kelly’s books – will look out for that one.
    Mary Stewart really was a genius at creating a sense of place, wasn’t she. I’ve been desperate to visit those places ever since I read the book. One day!

    Reply
  30. I love Kelly’s books – will look out for that one.
    Mary Stewart really was a genius at creating a sense of place, wasn’t she. I’ve been desperate to visit those places ever since I read the book. One day!

    Reply
  31. I’m in NYC, 2060 (approx) and I just partied at a wonderful bridal shower/sleepover with a bunch of fun gals! Yep, I’m rereading Promises in Death by J D Robb. Roarke took all the guys (even Mr. Mira!) to Las Vegas for casinos & stripper shows while Eve hosted (sortof? Eve hosting?) the gals in a spa retreat! I admit, I was more in the mood for a margarita instead of a bellini but hey, still good! I had a great facial, massage & sporting a wonderful new haircut; ate too many pastries, etc and even got to cuddle Belle for a little bit!

    Reply
  32. I’m in NYC, 2060 (approx) and I just partied at a wonderful bridal shower/sleepover with a bunch of fun gals! Yep, I’m rereading Promises in Death by J D Robb. Roarke took all the guys (even Mr. Mira!) to Las Vegas for casinos & stripper shows while Eve hosted (sortof? Eve hosting?) the gals in a spa retreat! I admit, I was more in the mood for a margarita instead of a bellini but hey, still good! I had a great facial, massage & sporting a wonderful new haircut; ate too many pastries, etc and even got to cuddle Belle for a little bit!

    Reply
  33. I’m in NYC, 2060 (approx) and I just partied at a wonderful bridal shower/sleepover with a bunch of fun gals! Yep, I’m rereading Promises in Death by J D Robb. Roarke took all the guys (even Mr. Mira!) to Las Vegas for casinos & stripper shows while Eve hosted (sortof? Eve hosting?) the gals in a spa retreat! I admit, I was more in the mood for a margarita instead of a bellini but hey, still good! I had a great facial, massage & sporting a wonderful new haircut; ate too many pastries, etc and even got to cuddle Belle for a little bit!

    Reply
  34. I’m in NYC, 2060 (approx) and I just partied at a wonderful bridal shower/sleepover with a bunch of fun gals! Yep, I’m rereading Promises in Death by J D Robb. Roarke took all the guys (even Mr. Mira!) to Las Vegas for casinos & stripper shows while Eve hosted (sortof? Eve hosting?) the gals in a spa retreat! I admit, I was more in the mood for a margarita instead of a bellini but hey, still good! I had a great facial, massage & sporting a wonderful new haircut; ate too many pastries, etc and even got to cuddle Belle for a little bit!

    Reply
  35. I’m in NYC, 2060 (approx) and I just partied at a wonderful bridal shower/sleepover with a bunch of fun gals! Yep, I’m rereading Promises in Death by J D Robb. Roarke took all the guys (even Mr. Mira!) to Las Vegas for casinos & stripper shows while Eve hosted (sortof? Eve hosting?) the gals in a spa retreat! I admit, I was more in the mood for a margarita instead of a bellini but hey, still good! I had a great facial, massage & sporting a wonderful new haircut; ate too many pastries, etc and even got to cuddle Belle for a little bit!

    Reply
  36. I’m on the island of Ortigia in Sicily, present time. An Irish woman is helping at a small family-owned hotel in the mornings, and learning to paint on ceramics in the afternoons with her mentor. She is trying to break contact with her toxic ex-husband but he has her friends and his mother calling her on a trumped up excuse, trying to figure out where she is. There is a lot more to the story with the Italian family she is staying with and so far it is magical! An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft.

    Reply
  37. I’m on the island of Ortigia in Sicily, present time. An Irish woman is helping at a small family-owned hotel in the mornings, and learning to paint on ceramics in the afternoons with her mentor. She is trying to break contact with her toxic ex-husband but he has her friends and his mother calling her on a trumped up excuse, trying to figure out where she is. There is a lot more to the story with the Italian family she is staying with and so far it is magical! An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft.

    Reply
  38. I’m on the island of Ortigia in Sicily, present time. An Irish woman is helping at a small family-owned hotel in the mornings, and learning to paint on ceramics in the afternoons with her mentor. She is trying to break contact with her toxic ex-husband but he has her friends and his mother calling her on a trumped up excuse, trying to figure out where she is. There is a lot more to the story with the Italian family she is staying with and so far it is magical! An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft.

    Reply
  39. I’m on the island of Ortigia in Sicily, present time. An Irish woman is helping at a small family-owned hotel in the mornings, and learning to paint on ceramics in the afternoons with her mentor. She is trying to break contact with her toxic ex-husband but he has her friends and his mother calling her on a trumped up excuse, trying to figure out where she is. There is a lot more to the story with the Italian family she is staying with and so far it is magical! An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft.

    Reply
  40. I’m on the island of Ortigia in Sicily, present time. An Irish woman is helping at a small family-owned hotel in the mornings, and learning to paint on ceramics in the afternoons with her mentor. She is trying to break contact with her toxic ex-husband but he has her friends and his mother calling her on a trumped up excuse, trying to figure out where she is. There is a lot more to the story with the Italian family she is staying with and so far it is magical! An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft.

    Reply
  41. I’ve been reading Jack Finney’s short stories so I’ve been in small towns in America in the past and the present. It was exhausting:):)
    Great question to ask!!!
    Saw your pics on Instagram Nicola. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    Reply
  42. I’ve been reading Jack Finney’s short stories so I’ve been in small towns in America in the past and the present. It was exhausting:):)
    Great question to ask!!!
    Saw your pics on Instagram Nicola. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    Reply
  43. I’ve been reading Jack Finney’s short stories so I’ve been in small towns in America in the past and the present. It was exhausting:):)
    Great question to ask!!!
    Saw your pics on Instagram Nicola. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    Reply
  44. I’ve been reading Jack Finney’s short stories so I’ve been in small towns in America in the past and the present. It was exhausting:):)
    Great question to ask!!!
    Saw your pics on Instagram Nicola. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    Reply
  45. I’ve been reading Jack Finney’s short stories so I’ve been in small towns in America in the past and the present. It was exhausting:):)
    Great question to ask!!!
    Saw your pics on Instagram Nicola. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    Reply
  46. I have had Finney’s Time and Again on my shelf for many years now. Do his short stories also include a time travel element, Teresa?

    Reply
  47. I have had Finney’s Time and Again on my shelf for many years now. Do his short stories also include a time travel element, Teresa?

    Reply
  48. I have had Finney’s Time and Again on my shelf for many years now. Do his short stories also include a time travel element, Teresa?

    Reply
  49. I have had Finney’s Time and Again on my shelf for many years now. Do his short stories also include a time travel element, Teresa?

    Reply
  50. I have had Finney’s Time and Again on my shelf for many years now. Do his short stories also include a time travel element, Teresa?

    Reply
  51. LOL, Teresa! It sounds as though you need a rest now!
    We had a lovely time, thank you – such fascinating places, and of course we had amazing weather!

    Reply
  52. LOL, Teresa! It sounds as though you need a rest now!
    We had a lovely time, thank you – such fascinating places, and of course we had amazing weather!

    Reply
  53. LOL, Teresa! It sounds as though you need a rest now!
    We had a lovely time, thank you – such fascinating places, and of course we had amazing weather!

    Reply
  54. LOL, Teresa! It sounds as though you need a rest now!
    We had a lovely time, thank you – such fascinating places, and of course we had amazing weather!

    Reply
  55. LOL, Teresa! It sounds as though you need a rest now!
    We had a lovely time, thank you – such fascinating places, and of course we had amazing weather!

    Reply
  56. I’m in Victorian London, but not upper class London. It’s the world of music hall theater. I just finished reading “A Contracted Spouse for the Prizefighter”, and it was extremely entertaining!

    Reply
  57. I’m in Victorian London, but not upper class London. It’s the world of music hall theater. I just finished reading “A Contracted Spouse for the Prizefighter”, and it was extremely entertaining!

    Reply
  58. I’m in Victorian London, but not upper class London. It’s the world of music hall theater. I just finished reading “A Contracted Spouse for the Prizefighter”, and it was extremely entertaining!

    Reply
  59. I’m in Victorian London, but not upper class London. It’s the world of music hall theater. I just finished reading “A Contracted Spouse for the Prizefighter”, and it was extremely entertaining!

    Reply
  60. I’m in Victorian London, but not upper class London. It’s the world of music hall theater. I just finished reading “A Contracted Spouse for the Prizefighter”, and it was extremely entertaining!

    Reply

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