My Books!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Away From The Spotlight

Please help me welcome Tamara Carlisle, author of Away From The Spotlight.  Tamara's on a blog tour, and today she's talking about the setting of her book.  After we take a look at her post we'll talk prizes.  Tamara, thank you so much for including us on your tour.

In Away from the Spotlight, hero, Will MacKenzie is English.  To further his career as a movie actor, he primarily lives in Los Angeles while maintaining a flat in London.  As an actor, he films all over the world.  Part of the novel takes place in England when Will travels to London to shoot a film and Shannon Sutherland visits Will as part of her post-California Bar Exam travel.

In light of these facts, I see two questions here.  First, why did I make Will British as opposed to American?  Second, why did I choose locations in England (London, Cambridge and Berkshire) as settings in the novel?  The simple answers are that I wrote what I like and I wrote what I know.

Why is Will English?

My ancestors are from the Scottish Borders and the U.K. has always fascinated me as a result.  Because of that interest, I attended a summer program at Cambridge University after my sophomore year in college.  I returned to the U.K. the summer after college, the summer after taking the California Bar Exam and a few times after that before meeting my Scottish husband at The Ye Olde King’s Head Pub in Santa Monica (which served as the inspiration for The Royalist in Away from the Spotlight).  Marrying a Scot with friends and relatives all over the U.K. resulted in additional travel there. 

My initial idea for the story was for famous actor, Will, to meet law student, Shannon, and for Shannon not to recognize him, allowing Will to have a normal relationship for a while.  I layered this overarching plot on my experience as a law student and young lawyer.  At that time, Anglophile that I was, I often hung out at the pubs in the Los Angeles area.  In my heyday, a pub was a good place to meet people because the atmosphere was more casual and friendly than that in American bars.  Since American men were not commonly found at the pubs at the time I frequented them, it made sense to me to make Will British.  The fact that the tabloid frenzy over the actors and actresses in the Twilight films, including Englishman, Robert Pattinson, led to my initial idea in the first place served as one more reason. 

In terms of research, I performed research to find a location for Will’s flat and for its description.  Once I learned that a lot of famous people lived in Hampstead, including Liam Gallagher of Oasis (a favorite band of mine), I chose it.  I then looked at real estate listings to find an appropriate flat.  I also researched some of the affluent towns in the Greater London Area in order to select Will’s hometown, Shepperton.  With respect to using correct British idioms, I hoped that having a British husband and spending a lot of time in the U.K. helped to ensure its accuracy.  To the extent that I got it wrong, I would argue that Will and his British ex-patriot friends in Los Angeles worked with a lot of Americans and adopted certain American idioms.

Why Are English Settings Used?

I layered the overarching plot of Away from the Spotlight over the details of my personal experience graduating from law school, studying for the California Bar Exam, traveling to the U.K. and Europe after the Bar Exam, and commencing work for a law firm.  Since Will was British and Shannon would travel after the Bar Exam, I thought London and Cambridge (where I had studied as noted above) would be perfect locations for them to spend quality time while trouble started to brew.  With respect to the hotel in Berkshire where Will and Shannon stayed upon Shannon’s return from her Eurail trip, I based that upon Cliveden, where one of my best friends from college was married. 

A Romance Novel Is a Vacation from the Ordinary

A good romance novel serves as a nice vacation from everyday life.  For Americans, reading a romance involving a British actor and jet-setting around the world is a nice escape.  For the British, reading about living the Hollywood life in California provides that same escapism.  For readers in other countries, I suspect that both aspects are a nice change of pace.  Of course, I could have made Will an ex-pat from another country and used other settings that still provided that vacation from the ordinary, but I wrote what I like and what I know.

In the closing weeks of law school, Shannon Sutherland meets handsome and charming Englishman Will MacKenzie. Initially swept off her feet, Shannon finds that Will has a secret that, once discovered and the consequences realized, could destroy their fledgling relationship. Will and Shannon take great pains to have a normal relationship but, ultimately, find it impossible to do so. Will the pressures of their careers and the temptations of others drive Will and Shannon apart? Can Will and Shannon live a happy life away from the spotlight?
“I met someone.  His name is Will.  He’s English, I think.”
“That would be different for you.”
She wasn’t wrong.  I had very casually dated a number of men I had met in the various pubs in Santa Monica.  They were from all over Europe, but not one of them had been English for some reason.  There were Scottish, Irish and Welsh men among them, but never English.  I had commented on occasion on the fact that I never seemed to meet English men at the English pubs I frequented.
“I’m going to see him again tomorrow night.”
“What’s he like?”
“Drop-dead gorgeous, smart, funny and with excellent taste in music.  Just my type.  Well, better than my type, actually.  It’s hard to believe someone that perfect has any interest in me.”
Please” Rachael said.  “You get hit on every time we go out.”
“That’s overstating things quite a bit.”
“You seem oblivious to it half the time.”
I guess I did ignore some of it.  When you spend time as part of a female minority in bars full of drunk men, it was hard not to think that some of them would have hit on me for no other reason than that I was female, regardless of how I acted, what I said, or what I looked like.  I therefore learned that getting hit on wasn’t necessarily a compliment and, the later it happened in the evening, the less of a compliment it was.
 AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tamara Carlisle is a former attorney and business consultant.  Away from the Spotlight is her first published work of fiction.  She currently is working on two additional novels:  one is about love in the music industry and the other is a work of paranormal fiction.  Tamara currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her British husband and daughter.  For further information, go to 
Library Thing:
Tmara’s Goodreads Author Page also includes a blog detailing trivia relating to Away from the Spotlight.
 Tamara will be awarding two $25 Amazon GCs to randomly drawn commenters during the tour so follow her tour and comment often.  You can find her schedule at


Tamara Carlisle said...

Thank you, Elaine, for having me here today. I look forward to checking in throughout the day and chatting. What does everyone think about the fact that my hero is British - does that make him more appealing/interesting?

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

MomJane said...

This sounds like it would be a sweet, but complicated love story. I love reading about England and Scotland.

Anonymous said...

English settings and characters always appeal to me!


Tamara Carlisle said...

Thanks for joining us today, MomJane and Vitajex! Hope you like the story!

Tamara Carlisle said...

Thank you again for hosting me today, Elaine. I appreciate it and look forward to following your blog.

Mary Preston said...

It's interesting to hear your thoughts about the 'geography' of the story & characters. I'm not putting that very well, but I think you know what I mean.


Tamara Carlisle said...

Mary, I understand what you mean. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Susie Welker said...

Thanks for sharing

Tamara Carlisle said...

Thanks, Susie! I'm glad you stopped by and that you liked the post.

Tamara Carlisle said...

Congratulations to Mary P. and Shannon R. for winning the Amazon $25 gift cards! I appreciate everyone who joined me on my tour. Please stay in touch on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads!