• Blog

    Place in a story

    Sydney Opera House VividAs I was having lunch with my lovely husband on a recent Saturday we had an interesting conversation about place in books.

    We’re Sydney people, though we’ve both travelled and lived elsewhere. There’s something about this city that is just magical. It’s the beaches, the harbour and the climate combined I think.

    The disadvantage of Sydney, which is also part of it’s charm and really the whole of Australia suffers from this problem, is its distance from the rest of the world.

    It’s a very long way on a plane to just about everywhere. Still Australians like to travel, we don’t let this deter us. When you write a story it’s important to have a good sense of place and yet so often in books towns are fabricated. Partly that’s because it’s fun to create your own town or city and sometimes these places are amalgams of real towns or are in fact a real town with the name changed (to protect the innocent – I suppose).

    When you write about a real city or town and don’t change it’s name you have to get it right. People will know you can’t get from Kirribilli to say Watson’s Bay in Sydney in seven minutes, people know where the cafes are, how long a train trip takes and whether the 136 bus does in fact go from Manly to Chatswood or not (it does but it’s a very slow bus!).

    In Mr Right and Other Mongrels I set the book in Sydney and I left everything apart from a couple of street names the same. (For your reference there is in fact a Dream House Lane in Sydney but it is not in Lavender Bay where Teddy lived but in another Northern Sydney suburb…I just wanted you to know that while it is a very cheesy name it is real.)

    In Hearts Afire I used parts of Sydney but I did create the name of the suburb where Cassie lives. That suburb is an amalgam of a few suburbs in Sydney’s inner west. (Feel free to guess which ones). The island on the Reef is based on a couple of islands I’ve visited up there.

    So do you like books set in real places you know, or places you might visit or do you prefer a whole new created world?

  • Blog

    Scenes from Manly or Mr Right and Other Mongrels Picture


    Foot print in sandYesterday my family and I went down to Manly to take some pictures of places featured in Mr Right and Other Mongrels. Almost in defiance of the hideous wet winter we’ve been having here in Sydney the sun shone, people were in the water, lying on the beach, walking by the foreshore and enjoying this beachside destination for all it has to offer.




    Manly Corso



    Manly Beach Surfers










    These images all reflect the atmosphere and culture of the Manly area where Allegra runs her bookshop and where she jogs every morning down from a side-street of awning covered shops to the beach and along the foreshore.





    Manly Markets - Inspire Signs
    Manly Beach
    Manly Beach Rock Pool

    Shelley Beach Coastal Walk

    Manly Beach Sculpture By the Sea
    Next time I’ll include some specific places the characters went to in the book!


    Betina Miller
    7/8/2012 10:52:39 am

    I love seeing these pictures!

    Still enjoying the book, about 3/4 done and I find myself savoring it (you know, like the last cookie or the last pieces of chocolate – you slow down so that you really can enjoy of what is left).
    7/8/2012 10:58:44 am

    Thanks Bettina, it’s so nice to hear back from people that they are enjoying the book. Makes me so happy!

    Jen Schaefer
    7/8/2012 11:42:29 am

    Those shops are exactly what I pictured!
    7/8/2012 11:45:01 am

    That’s good Jen, it must mean I described them reasonably well then.

    7/9/2012 03:55:47 am

    Love the pics! I’m dying to see Manly in real life and swim in that pool!
    7/9/2012 07:42:08 am

    I certainly hope you get to visit one day Deanna.

  • Blog

    Some photos of places in Mr Right and Other Mongrels


    Manly CorsoIt’s been a busy Saturday here in Sydney. It was a cool day but gorgeous and sunny. Now it’s a freezing night.

    I’m having a fun weekend reading through my next novel, Hearts Afire, which I hope will be released in August. As an extra bonus I’m also editing an annual report as part of my day job.

    With that in mind I thought today I would go with some pictures rather than quite as many words. I’ll do a photo run soon and get a few more location shots.

    In Mr Right and Other Mongrels the main character Allegra lives above her bookshop in Manly on a street that runs off The Corso.

    A street that is in fact quite a bit like the one on the left. Can you see her bookshop…it might be tucked in there somewhere on the left.


    Manly Corso - Surfection
    This is Manly Corso. The Corso, as it is known is a paved plaza or walkway that runs from Manly Wharf on the Harbourside of Manly down to Manly Beach. It’s lined with shops and restaurants and full of tourists who pour off the ferry on sunny days.

    Manly Beach
    And this is Manly Beach (Admittedly this won’t win me any photography awards -it was a rather drab day when I took this and the surf is terrible.) Allegra runs along the beachfront from here around to that headland.
    Hopefully this photos give those of you have never seen Sydney what it’s like in this little corner anyway. I’ll add more photos in the next


    Pamela Cook
    6/23/2012 07:43:55 am

    I can picture the lovely Allegra wandering through the corso and running along the beach. Look forward to the next installment.

    Julie Anne Lindsey
    6/23/2012 11:29:11 am

    Love the photographs. I can’t wait to read this book LOL

    Betina Miller
    6/23/2012 12:06:30 pm

    I’m about 1/3 into your book (I’m a slow reader…lol), and I enjoy seeing the pictures. I’m waiting for you to post more!
    6/23/2012 12:12:26 pm

    I absolutely will Bettina. And now that it’s sunny I’ll be able to capture the true vibe of the places alot better.

    6/25/2012 07:45:45 pm

    I have seen Sydney before, but do they have these markets at Manly near the Corso? I went once and got a really pretty necklace made of this cool cork stuff but I can’t quite remember where it was.

  • Blog

    Sydney as a character in Mr Right and Other Mongrels


    Sydney Opera House - Vivid
    One of the things I enjoyed in writing Mr Right and Other Mongrels was the opportunity to showcase parts of Sydney not always focussed on in books and movies.

    Everyone recognises this iconic building here (although it does look a bit different lit up for the Vivid Festival) but there are so many other fascinating parts of Sydney.

    Allegra’s bookshop is set in beachside Manly, a suburb very close to where I live. It is a fairly popular tourist spot as well but we tend to forget that people live in tourist spots. They run the shops and restaurants and schools in those places and live in the side-streets and up the small stair-cases we often walk past on our travels.

    I can regularly be found walking the route at Manly that Allegra runs in the novel (I’d like to say I ran it but anyone who knew me and read this would know that was a blatant lie), having a drink at the Manly Wharf Hotel or catching the Ferry across to the city. My family and I also love walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (or biking in the case of my husband and daughter).

    Other places featured in the book include Lavendar Bay, Balmain, the Rocks and Watsons Bay.

    I’ll make an effort to get out and take photos of these places to include on this blog because they are very much a part of the story. They also showcase what a wonderful city Sydney is to live in and visit if you get out and enjoy it.

    Monique Walking in the Rain
    This is me attempting to capture some of Sydney’s Rocks district in the rain on Saturday.


    Karly Lane
    6/4/2012 07:00:53 pm

    Loved recognising some of the locations in this book Monique- Congratulations on such a great read- it put a smile on my face and left me with a happy sigh! loved it x
    6/4/2012 07:11:26 pm

    Thanks Karly!! I am so very happy you enjoyed it!