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Guest blogger: Liz Harris

20 September 2020

And it’s tax deductible, too!

What’s tax deductible, I hear you ask. Why, travel if you’re doing it for reasons of research, is my reply.

And funnily enough, over the past few years, because I’ve set my novels in a variety of exotic places, and have had to make the ultimate sacrifice on a number of occasions of going to a distant country that’s fascinating, interesting and really inspiring, I’ve several times needed to take advantage of this.

For reasons of research, my travels in recent years have taken me, for example, to the US, India, Canada and Vietnam. Thank you, dear readers! I feel your wave of sympathy—it’s stretching out to me across the ocean.

I’ve been to a number of places in the US, the setting for four of my novels. The most recent, which came out earlier this year, The Dark Horizon, necessitated a trip to New York. While I’d been to New York a number of times, I’d never been to the Lower East Side, and as part of the book was located there, that obviously had to be rectified.

The Dark Horizon was the first of The Linford Series. Book 2, The Flame Within, which can be read as a standalone, comes out this October. In terms of travel, I fell down there, though. There was no need for a trip to exotica as a large part of the novel is set in a small mill town in the north of England, and the rest in an area of London that I know well, having been born there.

But I did go up to Waterfoot, the little mill town where my heroine, Alice, was raised, and I enjoyed my visit. The tax deductible element was inevitably small when compared with a trip to India, for example. But as they say, look after the cents …

But to research the series that will eventually follow The Linford Series, I needed my passport again. Oh, joy! The title of the next series is The Colonials, and that might give you a clue as to where I went. Yes, to India and, a few months after that, to Vietnam.

India is the setting for the first two Colonial novels. The title of the first will be Darjeeling Inheritance, and it is set among the tea planters in … Yes, your guess is correct!

There’ll be another in India, and then the last of the trilogy will be Saigon Secret, set in French Colonial Vietnam. Although Saigon is now officially Ho Chi Minh City, everyone I spoke to there referred to it as Saigon, and the airport letters are still SAI.

I loved every minute of my visit to Vietnam, travelling from Saigon down to the Mekong Delta, and then back up to the north to Hanoi, stopping at buzzing Hoi An on the way.

But what about Australia, you might well ask, and with good reason. Australia, to us Brits, is the most romantic of continents, and I wrote to you in October 2014 about my fabulous first trip to Australia. I hadn’t gone there for research, I’d gone for the wedding of my younger son to a lovely Australian girl. They married in the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney.

It was a quite wonderful trip, and I resolved to return again, and next time to see more of Australia. I had got as far as looking at flights for later this year, with the intention of flying into Sydney, and after a few days, flying up to Dubbo and going thence to Cobar for research. After a few days in Cobar, I was going to visit my daughter-in-law’s family in Adelaide, and then a writer friend in Victoria. It was to have been a superb trip.

And then we were in lockdown, and that was that.

When life returns to normal, I shall make that trip. Still inspired by my visit in October 2014, I have a novel in preparation, which is set in Cobar. You probably guessed that! I can’t wait to walk in person where so far I’ve walked only on Google Earth.

In the meantime, I shall fill in my tax returns, and wonder if the man who assesses them decides that he’s in the wrong job and that he, too, should be writing books.

Thank you enormously, ARRA, for letting me talk to you today. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having an excuse to look back at some of the photos I’ve taken in the past two years.

You can find Liz here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Flame Within

London, 1923.

Alice Linford stands on the pavement and stares up at the large Victorian house set back from the road—the house that is to be her new home.

But it isn’t her house. It belongs to someone else—to a Mrs Violet Osborne. A woman who was no more than a name at the end of an advertisement for a companion that had caught her eye three weeks earlier.

More precisely, it wasn’t Mrs Osborne’s name that had caught her eye—it was seeing that Mrs Osborne lived in Belsize Park, a short distance only from Kentish Town. Kentish Town, the place where Alice had lived when she’d been Mrs Thomas Linford.

Thomas Linford—the man she still loves, but through her own stupidity, has lost. The man for whom she’s left the small Lancashire town in which she was born to come down to London again. The man she’s determined to fight for.


  1. beverleyeikli permalink
    24 September 2020 1:52 pm

    Inspiring post, Liz – and nostalgic for reminding us of the travels we might have made this year. Hope to see you when you do, finally, make it to Australia again!

  2. 21 September 2020 7:11 am

    Great post! I was supposed to travel for (author) work this year – including a research trip to Scotland. Next year, fingers crossed.

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