One of the inspirations for our blog series about places was Susanne Bellamy’s Engaging the Enemy, in which the old buildings of inner-city Melbourne almost became characters in the story and gave it a strong sense of place. Today she’s flying us across the world to the setting of the (not yet officially titled) book she’s just finished writing.
by Susanne Bellamy
Nepal, landlocked kingdom and site of the world’s highest mountain, is the most recent place to inspire a story. Although I visited Nepal long before I travelled to Italy and wrote a couple of novellas set there, my Nepalese-set story had to foment for a long time.
Nepal is probably not the first place one thinks of when considering a romance. Trekking and climbing require a fair degree of fitness, and camping with little or no hot water and rudimentary facilities isn’t part of the usual romantic setting. But for a romantic suspense, physical challenges, isolation, less-than-reliable communications and the changeable weather offer plentiful external conflicts. And that’s just the beginning.
Internal conflict abounds as travellers have to rely on their own mental strength and dig deep, often confronting tough personal challenges. The mountains are unforgiving, but the rewards of succeeding are about more than just completing a walk. Danger and challenge show what characters are really made of, revealing the truth of the personalities involved. For protagonists under pressure, Nepal is ideal to set up the background conflicts, the danger and the personal challenges, and observe how the characters interact and grow.
When characters’ survival depends on their skill in trusting and working together in a hostile environment, it sharpens the spark of attraction. And because they are isolated, the time frame is different. They are in one another’s company for extended periods of time and have ample opportunity to see the other in action.
Sherpas, yaks carrying huge loads of anything and everything on their backs, incredibly steep drops off narrow, winding mountain tracks, cold showers, narrow bunks, smoky campfires, teahouses—these create the background. The setting is as much a character as the hero and heroine.
I combined my single experience of Nepal with my husband’s insights from numerous trips and his passion for the country to shape the setting, before creating a mountain-man spy worthy of the scientist heroine.
Like many reader friends, I love vicariously experiencing a country through stories and hope to share this one soon!
One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems.