Talking Location With author Graham Hurley: BAKU
Talking Location With… author Karen King – SPAIN
8th August 2020
#TalkingLocationWith… Karen King, author of The Year of Starting Over – SPAIN.
I’ve loved Spain from the moment I first visited it back in 2002. I was blown away by the beautiful landscape, the orange, lemon and olive trees that seemed to grow so abundantly everywhere, the mountains and valleys dotted with sugar cube houses, some built so perilously high up on a mountain with the only access a steep, narrow path that I wondered how the inhabitants managed to get their furniture up there, and how they dared to leave the house to go to work or shopping. The thought of travelling up and down those steep paths would make me want to stay in forever!
One of my daughters lived in a town house in Coín, an inland town on the Costa del Sol, Andalusia and I stayed with her for a week. This visit inspired me to write my first romance novel, Never Say Forever, which is now published by Headline.
Many years later, my daughter had returned to England and I had divorced and remarried when I visited Spain again. My husband Dave and I planned to live abroad when he retired, he favoured Cyprus but I persuaded him to visit the Costa del Sol and fortunately he loved it as much as I did. We spent two years researching and visiting different areas in Malaga, staying in both town and campo (country) houses and at different times of the year.
I loved the white towns scattered across the mountains but I didn’t love the treacherous mountain tracks leading up to them. I have no head for heights and would be clutching the side of my seat with eyes firmly closed whenever a perfectly normal road suddenly started upwards and changed into a mountain track with no warning, and no barriers – as often happens in Spain. The Spanish seem to have no fear of heights and build houses in the most remote places, some of them perched right on the edges of a cliff. I remember an estate agent taking us to visit a house high up in the mountains (I’d almost had a panic attack before we even got there) and saying ‘Look, there’s a view to die for.’ I took one look at the sheer drop below us and replied ‘That’s what I’m scared of!’
Dave and I both loved the area around Coín/ Cartama and Alhaurin el Grande and finally settled for a finca in Cartama with over twenty different trees, including orange, lemon, olive and fig trees, and more importantly for me, a pool. Dave spends his days tending to the garden and I spend my days writing, and swimming in the pool. Perfect. Sometimes we take an afternoon off to go and explore the region. We love visiting the different towns and attending the various festivals. The Spanish are warm, friendly people and love a celebration!
Living in Spain inspired my romance novel, The Year of Starting Over, which was published by Bookouture in 2019. The protagonist, Holly, is left an inheritance by her grandfather, and told to use it to live her dream. She accepts her friends invite to join them in Andalusia and help them get their artist retreat ready for the summer. Obviously the area was now familiar to me and many of the incidents in the book actually happened to us. I have recently signed a three book contract with Headline for romance novels, one of which will be set in Spain.
There are downsides, of course, to living in the campo, we have no town water supply and our water is pumped up through a borehole from an underground well. Our land is farmland high in nitrates so we can’t drink the water and always have to keep a supply of bottled water, but it’s fine for washing and cleaning. However, if the cables get wet – as often happens when we have torrential rain, the electricity supply to the well pump is cut out so we have no running water again until it all dries out. We have had plagues of ants, woodlice and various other creepy crawlies, and don’t get me started on the mosquitos! But I do love living in such a beautiful country, where the sun shines most of the year and am already planning a third book set in sunny Spain, which will be published by Headline in 2021. And the icing on the cake is that my daughter has now moved back to Coín with her children. It’s lovely having family here too. 😊
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