Sydney: the backdrop to Radiant

Sydney features as the back drop to Radiant. Here I explain the reasoning behind this and the importance of the setting to the novel.

Was Radiant always going to be set in Sydney?

Yes, it was a deliberate choice for quite a few reasons. Firstly, I believe you always write better about places you know and it’s more authentic. I was born and raised here and returned again after a number of years away, which gave me a fresh perspective on the city and a new appreciation for it.

Secondly, I needed the setting for Radiant to be a city that could offer a dark edge to it. While Sydney sparkles in the daylight, equally it can offer a unique ambience in the darkness. Parts of the inner city, and even the natural environment, offered a sinister edge.

Finally, I genuinely love Sydney and wanted to see it feature in this genre, where so much of the best fiction currently comes from overseas. There’s also a push from mainstream publishers against setting suspense and romantic suspense in Sydney and I’m the first to challenge that. Or else it has to be outback Australia and feature kangaroos or snakes!

The Australian brand is bigger than that and Sydney has much to offer. I also don’t think we give our overseas readers enough credit. Not every novel needs to be set in New York or London and readers can explore a new city at the same time as they are getting to know the characters of Radiant.

Take us through some of the main locations in Radiant.

Lily works in the inner city in a large Sydney hospital. Whilst I never specifically name the hospital, you could imagine it to be the RPA (Royal Prince Alfred) which is one of the city’s biggest and busiest hospitals. Working in an ED in this sort of location would be challenging at best – as well as the standard emergencies from accidents and illness, this sort of hospital would be subject to the social issues of a big city, including drugs and crime. This was important to demonstrate what Lily had to deal with on a daily basis in her role as an ED nurse and to hint at her strength of character.

Lily lives in Manly and spends a lot of time down by the beach. I grew up not far from the beach and wanted to showcase Sydney’s coastal lifestyle. I suppose I could have chosen Bondi, but I’d felt it had already been done. Plus Manly was closer to my heart as a northern suburbs girl.

North Head. It’s beautiful and eerie at the same time, with a stunning view of the city. The Q Station (Quarantine Station) now operates as a tourist destination and runs ghost tours. I dare you to go to the old hospital building during a night tour and take on the matron…you’re unlikely to last long!

Wiseman’s Ferry, about an hour north of Sydney. I have many fond memories as a child of spending summers at the Hawkesbury River with family, who at that time were passionate water skiers, and some of my family has since retired to this area. It’s a beautiful part of the world and aspects of it still feel so untouched – it can be hard to believe that Sydney is so close. To me, this area was all about showing off the Australian bush and giving readers a contrast to the city scenes. The road up to Wiseman’s is truly great for a drive and the bush was the perfect setting for the action scene with Melanie.

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