03 February, 2015

Romance Weekly Blog Hop - Setting the Scene

I hope you hopped over here after visiting with J.J. Devine. This time I'd like to plug an anthology she's involved with through her publisher, SoulMate. 

The title is A Soulmate for Christmas, and by clicking on the title, you'll be taken to the author support page.

J.J.'s story, A VAMPIRE FOR YULE, is about " . . . Two lonely hearts come together during the holidays and discover their destiny." Sounds sweet!

Brenda Margriet is back just in time to set the task of asking: How do you choose the setting for your book? Does where you live inspire you? This can apply even to books set in paranormal worlds - what do you use from "real life"?

You can find one of her novels, Mountain Fire, up for review on Goodreads, with links to buy.

"A mountaintop mystery leads two conservationists to dangerous obsessions and violent passions"

Both featured novels are in my TBR pile :D

Now to answer Brenda's questions.

How do you choose the setting for your book

Hmm. Do I choose them, or do they choose me? I'd like to believe I'm the one doing the choosing, and with familiar places that remove any sense of doubt about scene-setting, description, and things like weather patterns & flora/fauna stuff.

We're able to look up these vital pieces of information like weather, terrain, cultural norms, dress-code, parts-of-speech, etc. just by typing it into a search box. Still, relying on the internet as being gospel is pushing the risk boundary.

I've never been to Alaska but have watched with great fascination and interest every episode of Alaska State Troopers, Alaska: The Last Frontier, Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, and Flying Wild Alaska to feel somewhat safe about using it for a setting in my novels.

Does where you live inspire you

Yes, most definitely. 

There are so many wonderful places, quaint, old towns, wealthy/not places, farmland/metropolis, some breathtaking scenic routes, a peninsula that more resembles the Alaskan wilderness than Alaska, the Great Lakes, and also the Auroras (Northern Lights) that can be viewed as far south as the northern lower half of the state.

There is even a spot near the tip of your left-hand ring finger designated the most light-pollution free spot to stargaze in the entire country!

There are very few places I haven't been to yet to make me feel unqualified to set a scene in any area of Michigan and not sound like a lifer.

This can apply even to books set in paranormal worlds - what do you use from "real life"?

All of the above-mentioned things. Spending time in one of many State Parks, being adrift on a massive body of water, and even spending a long weekend away from reality in a tiny cottage surrounded by scented pine & cedar, peeling birch, a lake or stream, and with amazing night sky views as a backdrop. 

It all works to spark my imagination -- especially toward fantasy realms. I've envisioned castles forming in the center of these inland lakes, the fish I've tried and failed to catch having magic powers or the ability to speak/grant wishes just as they did in fairytales.

Heck, you wouldn't believe the number of times I'd lean over the side of a boat and dream about sunken treasure, mermaids, and even a silly triton slowly making its way to the surface of some of the most eerily still waters around.

If you've ever heard wolves baying at the moon the way you can in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, then it isn't hard to imagine them becoming human or at least working with humans in some way. 

Then there is the Viking/Norse/Finn heritage, the French fur trappers of the past and their stories. Also, the native nations that remain well-hid (like the wolves) and yet still leave their mark on tourist traps -- all of these things are enough to spark anyone's imagination and make them want to write at least one book.

When I work to create mystical, fantasy romance, it isn't difficult to imagine these make-believe places and people blending in seamlessly with some of the places I've been to, the interesting people I've met, and even a few of their quirky customs, beliefs, and habits.

Lastly, and after having had to go outside five times in a blizzard to keep ahead of nearly 2-feet of snowfall -- with a few young, healthy male neighbors helping out with their plows (even with the SuperBowl underway), along with some hilarious and wonderful online commentary for levity during that storm, how can my mind NOT conjure up all sorts of magical, unrealistic instances that lead to romance?

THIS timeline post had the FB ladies and I (even a few males) going for hours on Sunday -- stormy football Sunday, that is.

I'm not a big fan of cold weather or snow, and yet there are several aspects that make it a wonderful, magical event and help to inspire a vivid imagination, real or fantasy.

Just stand outside any forest-y area after a heavy snow when the sun is shining and wait for a breeze to blow -- you'll know what I mean.

As always, I thank you kindly for hopping over and reading my responses to such fun questions.

Our next stop takes us over to visit with Andrea Mansue (A.S. Fenichel) to find out how she responds.

You can find out more about her novel, Wishing Game, by clicking on the title. Such a lovely cover!


  1. Great post. I've never been to Alaska but you're smart to watch those television shows for research. I have been to Canada and adored it. Like you, when I lean over a boat, I, too, wonder about sunken treasure, mermaids, whales, and unfortunately, sharks.

  2. Oh, Viking/Norse heritage. I have a bit of that!

  3. I love the beauty of snow and playing it, but don't want to drive in it or have to shovel it ;)