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Talking Location With author Emily Benet – MALLORCA

28th July 2020

#TalkingLocationWith…. Emily Benet, author of Tipping Point, set on MALLORCA

I suspected the pictures of Mallorca’s turquoise bays had been Photoshopped. The colour, enhanced by the rocky headland, was too vibrant to be believed. How could a Mediterranean island look like the Maldives?

Even though I didn’t believe the images I came across online, I still used one as my screensaver to keep the dream alive as my husband and I packed up our lives in London.

The decision had come out of the blue. I’d spent my teenage years in mainland Spain but I’d resigned myself to the fact I wouldn’t be moving back to a warmer climate any time soon.  My husband’s work was going well in the UK. He’d established himself, which is no mean feat when you’re a freelance sound recordist. But one night, as I was getting ready for bed, he showed me a picture of a house for sale in Mallorca.

Emily Benet

Bodegas Angel Vineyard

The house had a sunny terrace and a pool and was a fraction of the price of the grim flat we had viewed earlier that week in the outskirts of London. I could picture myself writing in my alfresco office, no more tapping at the keyboard with fingerless gloves. We both saw the potential for a better quality of life and we decided to go for it.

We didn’t know much about Mallorca. We’d only been once. I had visited for a wedding in which I’d hardly left the rental villa; my husband a solo expedition one wet January weekend. Three months after making the snap decision, we sold everything we didn’t need (wedding dress included) and moved to the island.

Cala Pi

It turned out the pictures hadn’t been Photoshopped at all. Mallorca’s coastline is stunning. We savoured it from different viewing points. Every time someone came to visit we would drive them up to El Mirador de Ses Colomers to marvel at the arid cliffs plunging into deep blue sea.

Emily Benet

El Mirador de Ses Colomers

I soon found work writing for a magazine. My first job was to review a day tour on the Bonnie Lass – a classic 1949 Scottish fishing boat. We sailed past cliff-top mansions and bays only accessible by yacht. It was completely different to my London life and it felt exhilarating. That very same fishing boat recently featured in the hit Netflix series White Lines. The show is supposedly set in Ibiza, but actually most of it was filmed in Mallorca.

The seductive Balearic setting no doubt added to the success of the show. Certainly I’ve found it impossible to imagine the characters of my latest novel Tipping Point anywhere else. For two of them, a retired British couple, Mallorca means two very different lifestyles. Sociable Ellen imagines making friends with wealthy yacht owners, drinking sundowners in beach clubs and living a glossy sun-kissed life. Her husband George, however, is day-dreaming of rural Mallorca.

We chose to live beside the sea but rural Mallorca tempts me from time to time. Picture rustic sandstone villas with bright pink bougainvillea cascading over the walls. The parched earth is a roasted orange and sheep cluster for shade under gnarled almond trees. Rosemary and lavendar infuse the air with natural and relaxing scents which bid you slow down. That’s what George wants. He dreams of a quiet existence away from it all. But while George’s heart is set on the peace of a traditional farmhouse in the countryside, his wife is secretly plotting to turn it into a bustling boutique hotel.

Emily Benet

Robert Graves House

I’m always surprised when I meet people who don’t love the island as much as me. But of course, a beautiful place isn’t always going to solve your problems. In fact, its splendour tricks visitors from time to time, who arrive to find the perfect villa they booked was a scam. In Tipping Point, private investigator Salva knows the scammer has probably left the island but searching for him distracts him from his recent breakup. As for relationship guru Robyn, Mallorca’s English speaking population proves a great audience for her relationship talks; she just hopes they don’t find out her own relationship is less than perfect.

Mallorca gives the characters in Tipping Point the space to ask themselves whether they are really happy and if not what they think will make them happy – and whether it’s worth the disruption. Sometimes I joke with my husband that if he had to go back to London we would have to continue our relationship online because I couldn’t leave the island… In fact What if? is the question that begins all my novels.

Emily Benet

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750 - 3000 words with strong 'sense of place' theme

Short story, travelogue, or memoir

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Entries close 15th November 2020