When local author Steve Taylor first visited Cómpeta in the Axarquía, he had no idea that his first novel would be set against the backdrop of the village. The Grapevine caught up with Steve for a chat about his book, ‘Shades in the Sun’.
What made you decide to set your story in Spain?
I first visited Competa some 7 years ago when my wife and I were looking for a house. I fell in love with the village and have never really forgotten the first impressions it made upon me. There is something very special about the Gaudi meeting point and the view over to Competa from there. Over the years that we have been coming to our villa, Competa has really earned a place in our hearts. When I had an idea for a book, it was important to me tot part of it in Spain, as a kind of tribute to Competa and the friends we have made here.
So, is the book a flattering account of Competa?
Absolutely, yes. I have always been treated with kindness here and would like to think that the book might encourage a few more people to visit. Some of the places in ‘Shades in the Sun’ are recognisable Competa sights, such as the Church of La Asuncion and Plaza Almijara. Some of the characters are also based upon real people – with their permission, of course!
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Did you write the book here in Spain?
Yes, quite a lot of it. I spent almost a week here getting the first chapters down on paper. Then I have come back regularly to put together all my ideas and look at details of the places mentioned. I find that the quiet of the mountains outside Competa has been the ideal setting for writing.
Where did you get the inspiration for ‘Shades in the Sun’?
A couple of years ago, there was a very successful novel in the bestseller charts, featuring a chap called Christian Grey. I think you know the one I mean! I’ve never read the book myself, but as everyone was talking about it, it got me thinking about what it would be like if there was a good-looking, wealthy person in real life that was actually called Christian Grey. I wanted to have a bit of fun with the idea. My son is called Christian and my wife’s family
name is Bray, and once I got on the track, the ideas just kept rolling!
Can you tell us a bit about the plot?
Christian Brey works in London as an estate agent and all around him, people areengrossed in a sexy novel called ‘Shades in the Sun’. He isn’t too bothered to start with, but when he is passed over for promotion and even the girls in the office seem obsessed with the book, he starts to get fed up with all the references to his famous namesake. To get away from the fuss, he decides to head off to Spain for a break. Once there, he begins to forget his worries and makes some new friends. But when some diners in a restaurant get wind that he may be the real Christian Braye, Christian begins to wonder if he will ever be free of ‘Shades in the Sun.’
It sounds fun. Is ‘Shades in the Sun’ a romantic novel?
There is certainly romance in the book, but it is quite hard to categorise. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to call ‘Shades in the Sun’ ‘chick-lit’ as it was written by a man (!), but I would say it is that kind of genre. I am not pretending that the book will change your life, but it is great fun, with interesting characters and a quirky plot. I’d say it is the perfect beach read.
Is the book set entirely in Competa?
No! It also features London, Puerto Banus, Amsterdam and a little bit of Barbados!
Steve, you are quite brave to self-publish a book. Are you a full-time writer?
Actually, I used to own and manage a couple of catering outlets and more recently I have
been running my own garden design business. Working outside without too many distractions has really allowed me to develop my ideas. Mind you, I often woke up at 3.33am and had to scribble down a few paragraphs before I forgot them! Self-publication has been a steep learning curve, but I have been grateful for all the help I’ve received along the way.
This is your first book, are you planning on writing more?
I do have an idea for another novel. It also has a Spanish theme but a very different kind of story from ‘Shades in the Sun’.
Where can readers buy ‘Shades in the Sun’?
The book is available as a Kindle download or paperback from Amazon, priced at just £3.56 and £7.95. You can also purchase a paperback copy from Todo Papel and Marco Polo book shop in Cómpeta priced at 9.95 euros.