Readers of 3 WISE MEN will find themselves immersed in exotic locations. Most are centered on the Mediterranean. The French Riviera follows a beautiful section of the northern Mediterranean coastline. Côte d’Azur was the name given to this exotic coast by the writer Stéphen Liégeard in his book, La Côte d’azur, published in December 1887, and the name has stuck-and even become synonymous with ritzy vacation hotels for the rich and famous. What a perfect location to contrast the tension building in our protagonist’s life when he is captured-literally- by the Riviera’s charms.
[“Forgive me. I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Sasha.”
Jak responded, impressed by the softness of her red lambskin gloves and engaging smile.
“Pleased to meet you. Were you staying in Antibes?” she enquired.
“I was just there for the day.”
“Did you enjoy it?”
“Oh, it’s charming I guess.” But his thoughts fled elsewhere, searching for answers. His head slumped to read the unfolded note in his hand.
“I love Antibes,” she continued. “With its rich history, it’s been a favorite place for many well-known people.”
Jak nodded and raised his eyes to view the lights now sparkling along the coast. The horizon had vanished into a cobalt-gray shroud. Night was closing in and he sought solitude.
“What was a scientist like you doing in old Antibes?” she asked. “The town has been more popular with artists than scientists.”
She nodded. “Antibes was the social whirlpool for many famous writers, including Hemingway and Fitzgerald. They gravitated together at the popular Hôtel du Cap-Eden Roc—an idyllic location on the coast to help calm their personal differences and give them literary inspiration.”]
3 WISE MEN features real locations, real cafes, and real hotels , etc. in order to give authenticity to the novel. The plot is also plausible and based on a genuine ancient document.
The sense of place – places that reader have heard about or visited – was essential for me as a writer. In fact, one idea for the story was dropped – simply because it was a far-fetched possibility that our protagonist would be able to circumvent the security in place. I had checked it out carefully and realized that there was a slim chance of getting past the guards, but this was highly unlikely.
I hope the exotic locations and real places give 3 WISE MEN that touch of reality that I was looking for. Even the airline and train schedules needed to be correct. Some research took a while!
Finally, I was grateful to Galimard in Grasse for allowing me the rights to use their company name in 3 WISE MEN.
Why does 3 WISE MEN begin in Antibes? Why not start somewhere else, like the morning that Jak left to make his presentation? This would keep the plot linear, like most thrillers.
As starting points tumbled through my mind it seemed to me that Antibes was ideal for one main reason – it was the crisis moment in Jak’s journey; the point where his one final hope became hopeless, the point where he begins to feel very vulnerable. Jak found something in Antibes that got his hopes up, and then he lost something very important to him.
So, Antibes – with its beauty and literary history – is a pivotal marker in 3 WISE MEN. Antibes does, if you like, begin to put the wire of suspense under tension – ready to be released and continue to vibrate through the rest of the novel. Part of this tension is sprung when Jak finds out that Antibes was once the home for a famous spy – two actually! There is also a large arrow striking the ground in Antibes. Perhaps it is pointing to the start after all? The funny thing is, Jak spends about as much time in Antibes as my wife and I did while doing the research for 3 WISE MEN.
[Novel Extract: “Yes. Many rich and famous people escaped to Antibes,” she continued. “Winston Churchill painted part of the old town, and Picasso and Matisse loved it there too. Did you know that the English writer Graham Greene lived quite close to the train station? His simple apartment was full of books and had a commanding view over the yacht harbor. You may have passed it this afternoon?” Before he could reply, Sasha lowered her voice as if she was sharing a secret. “Some say he was also a spy.”
“I have heard of him, but I had no idea that he was a spy,” Jak replied. An awkward silence followed the word ‘spy’ so he looked away. ]
It should have been a quiet journey for Jak, but his peace and quiet was soon interrupted as the train pulled out of Antibes. A woman joined him and seemed very keen to make conversation. Jak ignored her for a while but was intrigued by her similar interests. She soon came around to the topic of his visit…
[Novel Extract: “So what is ‘just a scientist’ like you doing in Antibes?” she asked. “After all, the town has been more popular with artists than scientists.”
“Really? I didn’t know that.”
“Oh, yes,” she replied, with an air of confidence. “Antibes has been the social whirlpool for many famous writers, including Hemingway and Fitzgerald. They often gathered at the popular Hotel Eden Roc – its perfect location seemed to give them literary inspiration. I stayed there once, along with a group of friends. We had a wild party and I remember its beautifully manicured gardens, and diving off the rocks into crystal clear ocean below the huge infinity pool.”
Jak had noticed Sasha’s fine athletic figure and could imagine her making graceful dives into the sea. “I didn’t know that Antibes was so popular,” he said. “But, who is this woman?” he wondered. “If she can afford to move in high society, why is she on this train? By the way she is dressed she could afford a private taxi all the way to Milan!”]