Novel set in Italy and Norfolk (a delicious mix of everything you need in a good book)
Talking Location with author Bella Osborne – Antigua
12th November 2016
#TalkingLocationWith… author Bella Osborne, who shares her love of Antigua with her readers.
I’m thrilled to be on TripFiction – thank you so much for having me!
In my twenties I was a diligent saver and as I reached my goal of having enough for a deposit on a house my mum decided to celebrate my imminent step onto the property ladder by taking me away on holiday. We spent many nights scanning the holiday brochures but there was so much choice it was difficult to decide. Until one evening I came in from work and Mum shoved a brochure under my nose ‘What about here?’ She said tapping a fingernail on the picture. On the page was a scene I can still bring to mind – a white sand beach, vivid blue sea and a single bent palm tree. ‘Yes!’ I said without hesitation. The location we had chosen was Antigua and it was the start of a fervent love affair with the Caribbean.
When I came to write A Family Holiday I knew I wanted an exotic location to contrast against a busy and wet London (don’t get me wrong, I love London but it’s not my first choice for somewhere to escape to if you want to relax!) the Caribbean immediately sprang to mind and I began reminiscing about past holidays and which islands I could see my characters engaging with most. Antigua was an easy choice. It’s rarely the first island most of us think of so I saw it as an opportunity to share my fondness of it with readers.
I became glued to Google earth and spent time going over the trips I had done when I was there all those years earlier. I became so excited by it that my enthusiasm spilled over in to my holiday plans and while my husband was still frantically adding up the cost I had booked us a 10 day family holiday to Antigua (to check my facts you understand!)
So 17 years after my first trip to the island I was sinking my toes back into the warm sand as the crystal clear sea lapped a soothing rhythm – it was paradise. Whilst it was first and foremost a family holiday it did give me a chance to immerse myself in the island and with the first draft of the story written I could jot down the sights, sounds and smells around me to enable me to enhance my writing when I returned home. Many days were spent lying on the beach, snorkelling and trying various cocktails but a highlight was booking a tour of the island with my daughter to find that we were the only passengers! Our tour guide was terrific and when I explained that I wanted to check my facts for the story he said ‘So where do you want to go?’
We then set off on the tour that features almost in its entirety in the book. Highlights were Betty’s Hope, Nelson’s Dockyard, Shirley Heights and a secluded beach – it was a brilliant day and created new memories for us to cherish. Another brilliant trip was to Stingray city where wild stingrays come to a natural shallow in the ocean to be hand fed. Such an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.
Antigua is a stunning place and so full of history with the sweetest people you could imagine. It’s blessed by constant sunshine and has 365 beaches so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I hope one day to be able to return and in the meantime I have my memories and my photos to keep me going.
Thank you to Bella for sharing her experiences in this wonderful part of the world. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and via her website. Her book is available to buy here from your favourite bookseller.
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