Sunday, 26 June 2016

All About the Setting

It's a while since I wrote an 'Inspiration Behind the Story' post but my story, 'The Love Boat', in this years People's Friend Summer Special lends itself perfectly to the series.

The story is set in Switzerland - more precisely Lake Brienz near Interlaken and the romantic Grand Hotel in Giessbach -the idea came to me during a boat trip on the lake.

It was a year ago in May and we had been holidaying in Wengen for my husbands fiftieth birthday (you can read more about it in my blog post Another Writing Break - oops). We'd had a whole range of weather, heavy snow on our arrival, brilliant sunshine for a couple of days and now grey skies with the threat of rain. We'd done lots of walking and thought the boat trip would be a nice way to spend a rather overcast afternoon.

We had a timetable showing where the boat stopped but hadn't brought a guidebook with us so had no idea what any of the places were like. We would have to play it by ear.

The lake was beautiful and despite the drizzle we went out on deck and took lots of photographs. Then, there was an announcement that we would be stopping at Giessbach. We looked over at the shore but couldn't see anything except what looked like a funicular running up the mountainside. 

As we got closer, we noticed, high up on the mountain, what looked like a fairytale castle. There didn't seem to be anything else there but we were so intrigued we knew we had to get off the boat and investigate. We were the only ones - everyone else apparently preferring to stay in the warm cafeteria.

We loved the funicular. Built in 1879, it travels for 345 metres from the little pier at Giessbach-See to the Grand Hotel (which was the building we'd seen on the mountainside). The ride took only four minutes but we travelled through woods, over bridges and alongside waterfalls.

Once we got there, we found ourselves totally alone. It was magical. Taking the little trail to the Giessbach Falls, we stopped underneath its cascade and looked down at the lake through a white haze. I could just make out the little boat making its way to the next stop.

We walked back and stood on the terrace of the Grand Hotel. Here is a quote from the hotel website: 

'Today, just as it was one hundred years ago, the historical hotel residence, by the celebrated silvery Giessbach Falls, high above Lake Brienz, is quite simply a world of its own. Surrounded by mountains, forests and alpine meadows, this fairytale-castle boasts a breathtaking view of the unspoiled landscapes of Lake Brienz.'

There was no one about, as the season hadn't yet started, and it felt very strange but magical. I knew I wanted to set a story there. 

My husband and I had shared the wonder of Giessbach together but what if things had been different? What if the woman in my story (Gina) longed for romance and a place in which to dream? What if her husband (Robert) was more interested in timetables, guidebooks and itineraries? What if she jumped off the boat when it arrived at the little pier and left her husband on board? 

So many questions - I couldn't wait to get home to write the story.

My story, The Love Boat, has it all: the mountains, the lake, the funicular, the fairytale hotel, the waterfall... and someone who shows Gina that dreams really do come true.

When the story appeared in the Summer Special this week, I rushed out to buy it so that I could see the illustration. I was extremely happy to see that it was by David Young - the same artist who had illustrated my People's Friend first serial, Charlotte's War. He gets it right every time.

It was a bit like going down memory lane, reading the story again... maybe it's time for another holiday :-) 


  1. Thank you for this lovely post, Wendy. But another holiday tut tut - get on with those edits!

  2. I always enjoy your "story behind the story" posts, Wendy. What a lovely souvenir of your holiday!

  3. I enjoyed reading this and finding out where your stories come from, Wendy.

  4. If another holiday means another story then that seems like a sensible idea to me.

  5. What a stunning place, Wendy. Absolutely magical. And I can imagine how inspirational it was for your story. And how well David Young has captured it. Lovely post and brilliant pictures too. xxx

    1. David's a fabulous illustrator isn't he, Joanna.

  6. Lovely to hear the background to your latest story.

    I went on a school trip to that area when I was...ahem...young. :) The boat trip on the lake was fun, as was the ride up the mountain in the funicular.