Romance Writers Weekly: Location Location Location

RWWLogoThis week it’s Location, location location on Romance Writers Weekly blog hop. Carrie Elks wants to know how authors choose the location or setting for books? Do we pick somewhere we’ve already been, or do research creatively, using Google and other methods to find the perfect spot? Hope you’ve visited A.S. Fenichel who’s ahead of me on the hop.

This question is close to my heart as I a have a series entitled Seaside Heat. Growing up as a coastal gal, the beach has always a part of my life and is now part of my author brand.

IMG_1052My husband and I have vacationed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina since we began dating decades ago and before that with our families. In fact, his grandmother taught school in Corolla’s one room school house. OBX, as the Outer Banks is affectionately known, is a second home to us. Should Lady Luck Lottery ever smile upon us, it’ll probably become number one!

Though my books are set on the beaches of North Carolina or Virginia, where I live, my characters do venture to other locales.  In Sand and Sin, the hero is a West Coast SEAL who stops in Virginia Beach before heading home.  I had to research his base in Coronado as I’ve never been to San Diego or California for that matter.

Google Earth is a godsend when it comes to researching a setting.  Writing is faster and easier for me if I personally know the area. With any locale,  I’m careful not to write something that might offend locals.

I believe readers can tell when an author is comfortable and knows the story setting well. I was ecstatic when a reader, who grew up on the Outer Banks and had connections with firefighters and police,  highly praised Hot as Blazes.  She said she felt like she was back home! Written as a “coming home” novel, I couldn’t have asked for a better review.

Bodie Island Lighthouse
Bodie Island Lighthouse

Because I know the area, I felt comfortable including landmarks like Hatteras and Bodie Lighthouse,  Jockey’s Ridges and the well known Christmas Shop in Manteo in my stories.  The Casino in Hot as Blazes is named after an iconic night club of yesteryear that hosted famous music acts including, Duke Ellington, Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, The Platters, Bill Deal, the Rhondels, The Temptations, The Four Tops to name a few.

I’ll admit sometimes it feels confining to always use a setting close to home. Sometimes I wonder if I used more well known beach locales if the stories might attract more readers. Still, I love promoting the Virginia Beach and Norfolk area where I live as well as OBX where I love to vacation.

Let’s see how Jenna Da Sie uncovers settings for her stories.

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