The Jewell of Andalucía by Patrica Scanlan
Actually Orange Blossom Days wasn’t the book I intended writing at all. I had a different story in my head entirely. One of my Facebook followers sent me a message giving out about the character that had been the lucky bidder for Apartment 3B. (My second novel, written in the early nineties.) She was indignant that one of the ‘nicer’ characters hadn’t won the auction.
It delighted me to think a reader could get so annoyed about a character, and the ending of a novel. Apartment 3B was set in Dublin, and I got to thinking what great material apartment complexes provide. Living in such close proximity to others often brings up much conflict and drama (especially at the AGM’s) as well as camaraderie and shared experiences, among the tenants. Been there, done that, can’t do it again, I thought regretfully.
And then, a flash of inspiration struck. (It helped that I was lying on a lounger sunning myself on one our rare ‘summer’ days)
Why not set a novel in an exclusive beach side complex in Andalucía?
I’d owned an apartment in Southern Spain for years so I was very familiar with the south coast and the towns and urbanizations from Malaga, to Marbella. What a treat it would be, I thought, to write about a place I love. To share with my readers, the views across the Mediterranean to the majestic coast of Africa, and the great rock of Gibraltar guarding the narrow straits that divide the two continents, and through which the Atlantic Ocean feeds the glittering, shimmering, Mediterranean. Or to describe the sun slipping slowly down behind the majestic, sharp edged Sierra Bermeja, slashing the sky with banners of crimson and gold, while sitting at our favourite chiringuito on the white curve of beach caressed by the shushing sea, eating delicious food, washed down by ruby rioja.
I even had a name for the complex. La Joya de Andalucia. The Jewell of Andalucía.
Characters flew into my head. Anna and Austin buying an apartment and looking forward to their retirement spending lazy days in the sun. Anna inviting her besties over for long weekends… That was their plan but family weddings and grandchildren who needed minding scuppered that dream!
A feisty Texan, Sally Ann, had to deal with being separated from her husband but doing her best to keep things civil for her teen age daughters. La Joya became her refuge.
Eduardo de La Fuente, a self-important Notary from Madrid ‘surprised’ his wife, Consuela with an apartment and all is going well until he decides he wants to be El Presidente of the management committee. He has scores to settle with the concierge with whom he has running battles, much to his wife’s irritation.
Jutta, who owns an apartment fit-out and management business has several clients in La Joya and prides herself on her professionalism. But pride comes before a fall…
It all came together, and as I recovered from a hip replacement, in cold, wet Dublin, in my head, as my fingers flew over the keyboard, I was in balmy, orange blossom scented Andalucía.