Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for GLORIA, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. I have a guest post from the author, Katherine Shaw, to share.
Over to you, Katherine…
The Magic of Amsterdam, and Why I Chose it as the Setting for GLORIA
If you take a look at the book cover for GLORIA you will quickly spot one thing – it is set in Amsterdam! Or…more accurately…the final third of the book is. All of my promotional materials – bookmarks, stickers, ad graphics – contain artwork of the city, so I thought I’d use this blog post to share why I love the city, and why I chose it as the setting for my debut novel.
I first visited Amsterdam in November 2018, and I was immediately struck by its beauty. The quirky, colourful, narrow houses and sprawling network of picturesque canals were unlike I’d seen anywhere else, and it felt like you could wander the streets forever and always see something new. In fact, one of the days I spent there involved just that – walking down different pretty streets until we discovered an old shopping area we didn’t know existed, selling all sorts of curios. The city has a reputation for being somewhat of a party hub, but it actually has a very relaxed vibe and is awash with culture. There’s a real vibrancy and energy there which I haven’t experienced elsewhere, and it feels like you’re somewhere really special.
I’ve been lucky enough to return to Amsterdam twice more since that visit for work, and I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. Everywhere you look, there is something interesting to do or see, whether it’s a museum, an art gallery, a lush park or a side street of independent shops and market stalls. A trip on one of the canal boat tours (which I highly recommend!) reveals a wealth of history and offers up even more places to explore. The opportunities for intrigue and adventure are seemingly endless.
So, it’s clear I love the city, but why did I decide it was suitable as the setting for GLORIA? After all, you don’t usually write a novel just because you want to set it in a wonderful place (although I’m sure some people do!), it has to add something to the story.
There are some possible spoilers here, so be warned if you haven’t read the book yet! Hopefully they’ll serve as teasers to tickle your curiosity.
A key element of Gloria’s story is her need to escape. For different reasons at two different times in her life, she has to get out of the UK, and the ferry to Rotterdam (and subsequent bus to Amsterdam) is her salvation. The fare was cheap and once on the continent she could travel with relative ease – it was an ideal ticket out of her situation. What’s more, I’ve done this exact journey myself (with a little less drama, of course…), so recreating it on the page was a piece of cake.
Another factor in the decision to set the story in Amsterdam is Gloria’s biggest passion: art. She needed to discover and nurture her love of painting in a colourful city buzzing with life, and Amsterdam fit the bill perfectly. Art is embedded in its history, from Van Gogh to Rembrandt, with an array of masterpieces being on display there today. Gloria’s art is pivotal to the plot, and so it was critical I gave her a setting that would spark her inspiration and, just as importantly, that she would long for once she was separated from it.
Finally, what wasn’t an original factor in me choosing the setting but has proven to be incredibly useful since is that Amsterdam is so easily recognisable! With its unique canal houses adorning the majority of the souvenirs which are brought home from the city, using such imagery on my book cover and in all my promotional material has allowed me to instantly communicate a flavour of what the book is about. With so many books on the shelves (and online) these days, anything that helps our work catch the eye of the reader and stick with them is a great bonus.
And there we have it! I hope this has given you a glimpse into the magic of the city of Amsterdam and why I chose to feature it so predominantly in GLORIA, and perhaps even inspired you to visit yourself. Which places have you visited which sparked your imagination? I would love to hear about them!
For all intents and purposes, Gloria Harrison has the perfect life: a rich husband, a beautiful home, and all the free time she needs to work on her art. And yet, she is deeply unhappy. Initially resigned to be pushed around by her snobbish, manipulative husband, Greg, she discovers a shocking truth about him she simply cannot ignore, and has to get out.
As Gloria’s world unravels around her, she has to team up with friends new and old to escape not only her husband’s clutches, but also the country, even if that means giving up everything.
Gloria must rediscover who she used to be and realise her true worth to finally free herself from Greg’s stranglehold forever, or risk losing the person she holds most dear in the world – her daughter.
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Katherine Shaw is a multi-genre writer and self-confessed nerd from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, spending most of her time dreaming up new characters or playing D&D. She has a passion for telling the stories of underdogs who must rise up to defeat the hardships they have been dealt in life, often with a focus on female protagonists. She is currently working on her debut novel Gloria, a contemporary domestic thriller launching in September this year, alongside several short story projects that are in the works. You can find out more at her website (www.katherineshawwrites.com), and she is always happy to chat on Twitter.
Social Media Links ~ Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
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