Carrie and Huw have been together for ten years. They're making a go of Huw's family farm in Oxfordshire, England and a wedding has been planned. That is...until Huw backs out two weeks before the date. Carrie is absolutely stunned and doesn't know what to do with herself. Her best friend Rowena has the answer - they'll go on a girls only holiday in a camper van. That is...until Rowena is offered the job of a lifetime and has to cancel. But she substitutes sexy Matt Landor as Carrie's travelling companion.
Of course, you can see where this is going. Broken hearted girl, sexy guy, crossed signals, personality clash at first, but then...
Phillipa Ashley has crafted a wonderfully entertaining escapist read in Carrie Goes Off the Map that any chick lit fan will enjoy. Everyone enjoys a happy-ever-after ending and Ashley has made the journey there lots of fun. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the places that Matt and Carrie visit. Phillipa was kind enough to stop by and share a behind the scenes look at the settings.
You've been a travel writer - fave places, how much of your past travels make it into the books, where do you still want to visit, recommended places to visit etc.
"Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Luanne and letting me indulge my twin passions for travel and writing. Even as a little girl, I loved writing about places I’d visited. I used to make tiny magazines about my seaside holidays, complete with illustrations so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that inspiring places play a big role in my work.
My first book, Dating Mr December, was set in the English Lake District. I love this place so much that we bought an apartment there overlooking Lake Windermere. The landscape of hills and lakes is like a miniature painting, and has also been the inspiration for great writers such as Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth. Both of their former homes are within a few miles of our apartment, and you can actually walk to Dove Cottage.
One of my favourite European destinations is Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean that was the birthplace of Napoleon. It has everything; mountains, sugar soft beaches, perched villages and a turbulent history. I used the island as the setting for my recent Sourcebooks release, Wish You Were Here. The hero and heroine are adventure travel specialists and I did a lot of research into their jobs with a friend who was working for a worldwide adventure travel company.
It’s back to the UK for my next two Sourcebooks novels, including my new release Carrie Goes off the Map. As research for the book, I took my husband on a road trip around the south west of England in a vintage VW campervan! The van (called Bill after Bill Clinton!) was cramped and tricky to drive but also enormous fun. It was also the perfect way of forcing my hero, Matt, and heroine, Carrie, to get up close and personal. I chose the locations carefully to reflect Carrie’s emotional journey from losing everything, to finding a new direction in life and a new love.
So what are my recommendations for a visit to the UK? There’s so much so see, beyond the popular sights of London, Stratford and Edinburgh, so I’m going to stick with the places you might not have heard of - the places that Carrie visits on her road trip.
1. Carrie’s journey begins in Oxford where I went to university. With its magnificent buildings dating back almost 1000 years, Oxford is a must see and it has the bonus of amazing bookshops. I used a medieval inn called the Turf Tavern for one of the key scenes. This famous old pub is hidden in the middle of a college; just ask any student for directions!
2. North Devon is the first stop on the road trip. It’s famous for its surfing beaches and Exmoor, the setting for RD Blackmore’s 19th century romantic adventure, Lorna Doone. You’ll see thatched cottages, glorious coastal scenery and hidden wooded valleys – and yes, there really is a Doone valley.
3. As Carrie, the heroine is an actress and bit of a drama queen, the amazing Minack Theatre was the perfect place for her to share some dramatic revelations with the gorgeous Matt. This theatre was voted one of the world's top 10 best open-air events by Lonely Planet guides. Hewn from solid rock, it clings to the side of a cliff near Lands End and was the life’s work of a remarkable woman called Rowena Cade.
4. Carrie and Matt then move onto St Ives in Cornwall which was recently voted number one seaside resort in Britain by Trip Advisor. This fishing village has five creamy beaches, one of which, Porthmeor, offers exhilarating surfing. Tiny fisherman’s cottages huddle around the old harbour and the village is a magnet for artists, boasting many galleries and studios including the Tate St Ives. You’ll also find trendy bars, restaurants and quirky shops. In short, it’s just about perfect!
I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for a trip to Britain. As for me, I’d love to see the Grand Canyon and The Great Barrier Reef, but first we’re planning a trip to Vancouver for a special anniversary next year. It’s our dream to see a grizzly bear in the wild, but not too close."
Thanks so much for stopping by Phillipa and sharing your travel stories. I would love to visit England some day. I hope you enjoy your vacation to Canada!
You can find Phillipa on Facebook and on Twitter and on her blog!