Romantic Novelists' Association

Janice Horton Island In The Sun – Hurricane Experience In The Name Of Research!

27 March 2019

I’m delighted to welcome Janice Horton to the blog today. Janice’s latest book, Island in the Sun, is out now. She’s here to talk to us about research she did for it in the Caribbean!

A couple of years ago, while in the preliminary stages of researching my latest novel Island in the Sun,I was living on a small island in the Eastern Caribbean Sea. I was planning to include a dramatic fictional hurricane scene in the storyline and so I did research on the internet to find out how weather patterns develop to create a full-scale hurricane.

It was during my research that I saw reports of a tropical cyclone alert in the Caribbean Sea.

Tropical cyclones can develop into tropical storms and hurricanes. Over the next few days, I saw this cyclone gathering momentum until it became a tropical storm. And, when it was given the name Hurricane Earl,l also saw that it was heading our way!

I had been chatting to people on the island for a few days about hurricanes for my research and several people on the island still remembered being slammed by Hurricane Mitchback in 1998. All the gritty details were adding grist to my writer’s mill. Others, who hadn’t experienced a hurricane before, were light-heartedly accusing me of conjuring this one up!

But hurricanes are a serious business and it was interesting to see serious preparations being put in place once The National Hurricane Centre had issued a warning that Earlhad been upgraded and classified as a hurricane. Strangely, for the next couple of days, there was hardly a breath of wind in the air and the sea was like glass. The municipality and the islanders worked together during this time to cut down trees that might fall in the incoming storm and damage people or property.

I helped to batten up windows (not many on this tropical island have glass in them) and to nail protective shutters in place. As Hurricane Earlapproached, weather and mood on the island became a little spooky, as menacingly dark clouds gathered on the horizon.

There was an underlying atmosphere of trepidation but there was also anticipation and adrenalin. It was kind of amusing to see that instead of panicking, most people were in in a party mood. There were hurricane parties being held and all the bars on the island were serving The Hurricane as their cocktail of the day.

The following morning, we realised we had been spared. According to reports, the hurricane had changed direction and had missed our island completely. However, Earl was a Category One Hurricane when it made landfall in Belize and crossed Guatemala into southern Mexico.

Earl caused considerable wind damage and storm surge flooding in Belize and produced very heavy rainfall across much of Central America, resulting in widespread flooding and mudslides and was responsible for eighty-one deaths in Mexico.

When we woke to this sobering news, everyone on the island considered themselves very fortunate indeed. However, as a writer, I did value the experience of being directly involved in very real hurricane warning preparations. It was incredible and valuable first-hand experience. Proving that no experience in a writer’s life goes to waste.

The scene is now a pivotal part of an action-packed scene in the storyline of my new and latest romantic adventure novel – Island In The Sun– which is out now and available to download from Amazon!

Thank you for sharing that experience with us, Janice. What an incredible experience. I’m so glad that you were all okay! There’s nothing like first hand experience for bringing your book to life.

The Caribbean is a stunning setting for your book, hurricanes notwithstanding, but I’m massively intrigued to know the little details that you learned about the area, and the people, that really add that authenticity. What did you find that surprised you?

 All the islands in the Caribbean are stunningly beautiful. But, what surprised me the most while travelling extensively throughout the Caribbean, is the diversity between islands. Some are arid and full of cacti (like Aruba, for example) while many others are tropical rainforests (like St Lucia and Dominica). Surprisingly and refreshingly, not all of the islands are touristy and commercialised. Generally, those that have an international airport are the most convenient destinations, and therefore the most popular with tourists. But, if you make a bit of an effort and take a little more time, it is still possible to find islands with quiet beaches relatively untouched by tourism. Some islands might have an airstrip for inter-island hopping by small plane, but if not, you would need to travel to them by boat. These more isolated tropical island gems are the ones I have used as inspiration for Island in the Sun.

You have travelled extensively, and lots of us have followed your blog with enormous interest, but do your locations inspire your novels, or do the characters arrive first?

Exotic locations do inspire my writing. But, actually, it’s the very real experiences I have in these locations that help me create fictional scenes. In creating authentic scenes, I can weave adventure into my books and hopefully, through my characters, evoke in the reader a sensory experience. And, that’s why I call my books ‘romantic adventure’ stories!

Are you still in the Caribbean?  Could you give us a sneak preview about where you might be heading next and what new books you might have planned?

Having spent the whole of last summer in the Caribbean, I’ve just spent this past winter living in the South of France while working on ‘The Next Adventure’, which is the sequel to ‘The Backpacking Housewife’. I’m planning to stay in France a while longer yet to work on the revisions and edits before starting on the third (yet untitled) book in my three-book contract for HarperImpulse. I’m looking forward to the summer here and to enjoying the hot weather, because the South of France in winter has been surprisingly cold! Then later in 2019, the backpacking husband and I plan to head over to Asia before making our way across the Pacific and down to the Caribbean again and for the summer of 2020, hopefully gathering inspiration and new ideas for future romantic adventure books along the way!

 Thank you again, Janice, it has been absolutely fascinating talking to you. Have a wonderful summer in France!

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Janice Horton, also known as the backpacking housewife,writes contemporary romantic fiction with a dash of humour and a sense of adventure. Once her three children had grown up, Janice and her backpacking husband sold their empty nest in Scotland UK along with almost everything they owned and set off to travel the world. Since then they have been travelling full-time and have explored over 50 countries, living out of an apartment, a hut, or wherever they happen to find themselves.

Janice works as a writer wherever she is in the world. When not writing bestselling romantic adventure novels, she writes lifestyle and travel features for her website and her work has also featured in national and international magazines like ‘Prima’ in the UK and ‘Friday’ in Dubai. She has also been involved in BBC Scotland’s Write Here Write Now project and has been interviewed on many podcasts and radio shows including Loose Women’s Kaye Adams’ prime time BBC Radio Scotland Show.

Look out for her latest romantic adventure novel and escape to a tropical paradise in this epic story of hidden pasts and family secrets: ‘Island in the Sun’ (published January 2019)

Janice writes for HarperCollins Publishers. Look out for ‘The Backpacking Housewife’ (published July 2018) and two more backpacking romantic adventure novels including a sequel ‘The Next Adventure’ (July 2019) and a third title to be published later in 2019.

Her backlist of bestselling romantic adventure novels include: ‘Bagpipes and Bullshot’ and ‘Reaching for the Stars’ and ‘Castaway in the Caribbean’ – a #1 Kindle Bestseller shortlisted for the prestigious Love Story Awards.

Janice also writes under the author name of Janey Travis. Look out for her fun romantic comedy ‘I Need a Doctor’. “Just the right sprinkling of romance and humour” says Brook Cottage Books.

You can follow Janice here:






Interviewer: Ruby Moone

Ruby Moone lives in the wilds of Lancashire with her husband and writes historical and contemporary romance. At school, her teachers said that she lived with her head in the clouds and if she didn’t stop daydreaming she would never get anywhere. She never did stop daydreaming, and after years of happily living in the clouds, decided to write the stories down.