When I wrote Clear As Day, the first book in my River series, I used a real location for the setting that I had loved visiting and that was very vivid to me, Lake Mohave. In fact, I had written pages of setting description as an exercise featuring the summer heat and cool waters of Lake Mohave before Kay and Nate ever appeared in that first scene and the little story was born that would eventually grow into Clear As Day. The other stories I have in the works for my River series also grew out of that scenic desert setting.
My new release, Summertime Dream, also began with a setting, but in a very different way. I’ve never been to Falk’s Bend. The town and Falk House can’t be found on any map outside of my imagination. Originally, I planned to write a short story around a Fourth of July picnic, something very sentimental and traditional, and a story that had absolutely nothing to do with Lake Mohave or my River series. I didn’t even know in which state I was building my fictional town. I simply had in mind a very green, steamy hot July 4th day at a picnic ground in a town park.
This time, there was no wandering off into pages of simple setting. The viewpoint of the heroine that would be Margie was already in the scene, frustrated and yearning for change, yet loving her small town traditions. Then my hero walked into the scene and I discovered that he was in town because he’d unexpectedly inherited a house. At that stage, my hero and I both were thinking some sort of old, but ordinary house.
Ordinary was not the word for the house my imagination concocted: a grandly decrepit old white elephant of a mansion. After the real locations I used in Clear As Day, drafting away in a fictional setting was unsettling. A confusing feeling, considering all the world building I’ve been doing for my fantasy stories, where crafting fictional places was perfectly normal. Stuck on the need for “realness” I began to research. Looking for visuals of the house led me to the lovely old Second Empire style Heck-Anderson house in Raleigh, South Carolina, which is very close to the house I first imagined.
From that point on, the details of Falk’s Bend became easier. My fictional town of Falk’s Bend and the Olsson family’s restaurant were partially inspired by my Swedish heritage. I’d love to live in a quiet small town someday (but my “city-mouse” husband isn’t too keen on this idea). I finally settled my little town in the state of Missouri because of its many rivers, a great location for a hero with a hobby of fishing, and because its rural areas and history felt so opposite of Christopher’s life in Los Angeles. Also, while most Swedish emigrants settled in the upper Midwest, Missouri felt like a place where Christopher’s enterprising ancestor might choose to build a community and his fortunes.
I’ve always loved antiques and I had fun “decorating” the Falk house. The antique books Margie finds in the library are all real books I own, as is some of the other bric-a-brac found in the Falk house. Christopher’s rocking chair and little table are in my living room. I ended up having a wonderful time writing the settings in Summertime Dream, and the house became almost as much a character in the story as my hero and heroine.
If you are a writer, how do you go about choosing a setting for your stories? If you are a reader, do you prefer settings that you could actually visit or places of the imagination?
The Fourth of July is over, but for these summer lovers the fireworks have just begun.
An unexpected inheritance brings business consultant Christopher Gordon from Los Angeles to quaint Falk’s Bend. He’s carved a week from his demanding schedule to list his great-grandparents’ house for sale and explore his roots. However, disturbing family secrets and the sweet temptation of writer Margie Olsson derail his plans, challenging him to seize the elusive dream missing from his hectic life— love.
A recent brush with death shook Margie’s life, but not her dreams and she’s ready to move forward. Only, standing up to her loving, over-protective family isn’t easy. Helping Christopher explore the derelict mansion and unravel his grandmother’s mysterious past should be a harmless fun taste of independence. But when her experimental summer fling ignites into unexpected love, how can her small town dreams work with his big city life?
Christopher removed the padlock and chain from the driveway gate and swung the gate open, only to have the rickety picket panel break off in his hands. He shook his head and dropped the wreckage aside on the grass. “One more item for the to-repair list.”
After slowly navigating the lumpy, buckled driveway to park alongside the house, he pulled a heavy-duty flashlight from the back seat. “The power’s not on yet, maybe tomorrow. Mrs. Dodd lent this to me.”
She tippy-toed after him up the side porch steps, careful to avoid putting the high heels of her sandals through the old wood. “We’re not wearing the best exploring clothes.” She smoothed her hands over the skirt of her dress. Both of them were dressed more for church or a dinner date.
He regarded her from beside the boarded front door, his steady gaze pausing on her mouth before flinching upward. “You look great. Really pretty in that peach color.” A flush rose in his cheeks, and he focused on sorting through the neatly labeled ring of keys.
Her own cheeks burned. Was he also remembering those kisses yesterday? “Thanks.”
Christopher removed the padlock and swung open both panels, revealing the screen doors and the original ornamented and leaded glass double entry doors, both curving into a graceful peaked arch like a church door.
“Oh, all the glass is safe. Isn’t it beautiful?”
Christopher nodded as he fit an old-fashioned key into the ornate brass lock. He gripped the doorknob and took a deep breath. “Ready?”
The hinges whined and creaked as he pushed the door inward. Daylight wedged into the short entry vestibule, revealing another doorway formed by elegant leaded glass sidelights and transom, and faded across the hardwood floor into the gloomy grand entry hall. Disturbed dust floated through the sunlight.
Christopher flicked on the flashlight and stepped into the once-majestic hall. Margie followed, nose wrinkling at the musty stale air. He swung the light upward, revealing an elaborate lamp fixture hanging from a plaster medallion, the crystal pendants festooned with spider webs. “Our very own haunted house, huh?”
Come fall in love at the river:
Summertime Dream is available at:
Amazon.com (Print and Kindle): http://amzn.com/B00HJDS3E6
The Wild Rose Press (Print and ebook):
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-summertimedream-1468219-149.html
About the Author:
Babette James writes sweetly scorching contemporary romance and loves reading nail-biting tales with a satisfying happily ever after. When not dreaming up stories, she enjoys playing with new bread recipes and dabbling with paints. As a teacher, she loves encouraging new readers and writers as they discover their growing abilities. Her class cheers when it’s time for their spelling test! Born in New Jersey and raised in Southern California, she’s had a life-long love of the desert and going down the shore. Babette lives in New Jersey with her wonderfully patient husband and extremely spoiled cats.
You can find Babette at:
Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/babette.james
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/BabetteJamesAuthor
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B007KDJWV8
Photo: Heck-Andrews House by Mark Turner