I have always loved London, ever since my first trip to an art museum with the Brownies when I was twelve years old. The buildings, the parks, the bustle, the people, the diversity, the sheer sprawling mass of it sparked a love story that has never ended. I’ve been there many times over the years; in my late teens to see theatre productions for my A’Levels; for parties and conferences for the Romantic Novelists Association; for weekend breaks when I explored the city and took photos to my heart’s content; for meetings with my lovely editor Charlotte – she took me to The Ritz for a cocktail to discuss what was to become my debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love, which almost made my head explode with excitement – and then later for research trips, which were as much for pleasure as they were for business.
London had a guest appearance in Crazy, Undercover, Love but the heart of the story was in Barcelona, and I just knew that if I was lucky enough to publish another book with HarperImpulse, it had to be set in London. And so I wrote Picnics in Hyde Park, inspired by a day trip with my mum and children when we went to Hyde Park and walked the river, and splashed about in the Princess Diana water feature and ate ice creams on a mild spring day. When Charlotte then commissioned me to write an entire series set in London, a set of novellas that would lead up to the publication of Picnics in Hyde Park, I couldn’t have been more delighted – more reasons to visit my favourite city!
After agreeing on the setting, title, and time of year for each novella, I visited all of the places featured (barring Wimbledon – which I have never quite managed to get to) and I can honestly say the magic of them took my breath away, providing me with endless inspiration, especially Primrose Hill. The fact that such a beautiful, rolling green park which can feel so quiet and peaceful is actually in the middle of suburbia still takes me by surprise and I used it as Georgiana’s favourite place in Valentine’s on Primrose Hill. Somerset House is one of the most gorgeous buildings I have ever seen and the use of it at Christmas for the ice skating rink gave me a great setting for the start of the #LoveLondon series. Chelsea is a teeming, trendy piece of the city filled with socialites and of course heavily features in one of my daughter’s favourite TV programmes… and The Ritz? Well, I’ve had a quite a few cocktails there and my aim is to spend a night at some point… I’d have to sell a few more books though J
One thing is for sure – my romance with London is far from over.
I hope you enjoy the photos below, which give you a small peek into the many reasons I love London. Also, while I loved the original covers for the #LoveLondon series, I adore these new covers and have been so excited waiting for them to be shared with the world! I hope other people feel the same.