Long before I left my native France for the United States I already loved novels set in different countries. They allowed me to escape my familiar for the unknown.
Living abroad, in my experience, is discovering the unknown, day after day, not only for the time of a book. Although I am now at home in the US, I will always keep a special fondness for stories set in foreign lands.
Today I invite you to meet six authors who write from the United States, Canada and Australia and chose a foreign setting for their books. I asked them to share the inspiration for the location.
Since I write for both adults and children these authors, all women, represent a large spectrum from children’s picture books to adults’ novels. Stella and Jennifer’s books don’t exactly fit the requirement, but you’ll see why I still wanted to have them here.
Joan’s Picture Book Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth
Love and determination are driving components in Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth, a story of a ten-year-old girl. Ji-su’s mother has been chosen by the Korean King to be a seamstress at the palace. It is an honor to be chosen, but for Ji-su it means saying goodbye to her mother. Ji-su knows her mother was chosen because of her creativity in design and her fine stitching. Ji-su takes it upon herself to learn to sew bojagi as fine as her mother’s so she can be chosen to sew at the palace and be reunited with her mother.
My stories come to me from my world, like gifts left at my door. Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth was inspired by an exhibit of bojagi, Korean wrapping cloths, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Bojagi of various colors, sizes, and designs beaconed me from a distance. Korean women had stitched the beautiful wrapping cloths. Their work became the seed for my story. Little did they know their wrapping cloths would be preserved as family heirlooms, displayed in museums worldwide, and be an inspiration for Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth.
Stella’s Early Reader Novel Mike the Spike
Mike is a cool little boy who is very vain about his orange spiky hair. To his horror, he discovers he has head lice. He can’t bear the thought of anyone finding out, and tries to get rid of them himself. His attempts are imaginative, to say the least!
The author excels at creating a realistic situation with a highly likeable main character. The illustrations, modern and dynamic, help the young readers to follow the clever plot.
The inspiration for the Australian setting was easy since Stella writes and lives in Sydney, Australia. Many details through the entire story hint at the location, such as English spelling and vocabulary choice.
You can visit Stella on her website and blog.
Mike the Spike is available from the publisher’s website.
Jennifer’s Young Adult Novel Dragonfly Dreams
Dragonfly Dreams is a Young Adult paranormal novel about motherly love and immigrant drama. The story is not exactly set in a foreign land. However, Fresno, located in Central California, a region sometimes called the Forgotten California, can feel quite foreign to anyone used to the northern and southern parts of the state. And yet with its rich immigration history and three outstanding National Parks this is the real California, a unique blend of human diversity and raw natural beauty.
It’s 1880 in Fresno, California when 17-year-old Topaz Woo dies after giving birth. She can get an extension in a non-physical body—if she uses The Ten Commandments to influence her newborn. Over the course of ten years, she finds herself stymied in parenting by intergenerational drama and spiritual battle. Will she adjust to an otherworldly existence and give her daughter a solid foundation? Or will she become mired in family disputes and forfeit her soul to evil?
Dragonfly Dreams explores the battle between good and evil, both visibly around us and through unseen forces. It’s also a love letter to where I grew up, with its fascinating history of both immigrant opportunities and struggles.
You can visit Jennifer on her website and blog.
Judith’s Novel City of Illusions
City of Illusions is set in the glories of Rome where a naive young woman, Laura, believes she will be able to reset her stale marriage while enjoying a year abroad. But life as an expat is far different than she imagined when she and her husband are swept into a world where the temptations of the Old World abound.
My inspiration for the novel’s setting, Rome, comes from my ten years living in the city and from working for the United Nations. Some expats don’t manage to adjust to the change in culture, some non-working spouses feel cast adrift when left alone and some fall into activities they regret later. But others find true happiness and fall in love with Italy. My two main characters experience the attractions and challenges of Rome in different ways and both change as a result, one succeeding and the other learning a hard lesson.
City of Illusions is available from Amazon in both paperback and electronic formats, and on order from your local bookstore.
Patricia’s Novel The Promise of Provence
Fifty, suddenly divorced and alone, can be an opportunity to begin something better than you ever dreamed. A mid-life coming of age unfolds in the charming countryside of Provence, sophisticated boulevards of Paris and sun-kissed Côte d’Azur.
I’ve had a love affair with France all my life. My husband and I rented an apartment in Antibes on the Côte d’Azur for 5 months in 2011. Shortly after we arrived, I was standing in line in the daily Provençal market waiting to place my cheese order. I watched the fromager speaking with a customer about a particular piece of blue cheese and was amazed at the passion on his face and in his voice. I knew I wanted to write about a woman who would fall in love with him!
The Promise of Provence, the first novel in the Series Love in Provence, received numerous awards. Due to its success Amazon offered a contract to Patricia who is now working with them on the third novel.
You can visit Patricia on her website and blog.
Nicki’s Historical Novel Tiger Tail Soup
A Chinese woman left behind when her husband goes to war soon finds herself in the middle of that same war. She will need all the courage and tenacity she can summon to survive and protect her family during seven long years of Japanese occupation.
My inspiration for Tiger Tail Soup was my late husband’s stories about his early childhood in his hometown in China during that portion of World War II also known as the Sino-Japanese War.
You can visit Nicki on her website and blog.
And for the Middle Grade kid in your thoughts, you can always pick my novel Chronicles From Château Moines set in a small town in Normandy, France, my home region, in the turbulent early 1970s.
I hope that will pay a visit to my fellow writers and perhaps pick a book for this holiday gift list that grows and grows and grows…
See you soon, either on your blog or mine.