07 March 2007

Um, Where?

I have heard that line more times than I can count, whenever I mention the setting of the first manuscript I wrote. And it wasn't just from family members wrapped up in their own lives or friends, who'd known me for years but were only mildly aware of my interest in historical fiction. When I began to query agents for the work, which is set in 13th century Islamic Spain, one of the more entertaining responses to email queries was something about Grenada (as in the Caribbean country), rather than Granada, (the old Islamic capital).

Of course, since I wrote the manuscript, I know why I chose the setting. Spain has a fascinating history and its turbulent times in the 13th century were perfect fodder for building a world of characters surrounded by intrigue. Granada has many relics of its Islamic past, including the Alhambra, which is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved monuments of the period. But sometimes in talking about this, I still get those blank stares and, "Um, where did you say this place is?"

What influenced each of you to choose the often exotic locales for your novels? Like me, was there something about the place and time that first sparked your interest? Do you find it harder to sell your work, because its setting or time is unfamiliar?

Happy writing, Lisa