I was at a conference in Portland, Oregon in 2008, and was so inspired by the beauty of the city that I set my contemporary paranormal BURNING LOVE there. The story revolves around the beautiful, but dilapidated, century-old house that Riley is restoring. I saw many such houses (old and elegant, not dilapidated) in the neighborhood near our hotel, and I thought it was the perfect setting for my story.
Settings can inspire like that. While on vacation in Maui in 2013, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the ocean and the beauty I saw all around me. It gave me the idea for a mystery/romantic suspense. The idea is still only a tiny kernel, but I would love to flesh it out. And if that means having to go back to Maui for “research”, that’s a price I’m more than willing to pay.
Last June my husband and I had the opportunity to go to Europe. We cruised the Rhone River in Provence in southern France, and I understood for the first time why artists like Van Gogh were so inspired to paint there. The light is stunning – the sky is so blue it looks almost unreal. The landscape varies from terraced vineyards along the riverbank, to vast fields of blooming lavender, to orchards of olives and almonds and apricots.
Amidst all the natural beauty of the region, we also found the beauty of history, and were privileged to walk in the footsteps of those who came before. We visited Roman ruins – a coliseum in Arles which is a smaller version of the one in Rome, and an amphitheater in Vienne that’s still in use today. There was the Renaissance Chateau in the beautiful little village of Grignan, and the Gothic Papal Palace in Avignon. How could I not be inspired?
Some of the history was less beautiful. In Lyon, we visited the Museum of the Resistance, in the building that had been the headquarters of the Gestapo in the city during World War Two. I could practically hear the walls speaking, telling me their stories.
Travel inspires me. Experiencing places I’ve only had the opportunity to see in pictures makes them come alive for me. One of the books I’m working on right now is partially set in New York City, and though I’ve never been, I want to give the novel an authentic feel. I can feel another trip coming on!
Have you ever set a novel in a place you traveled to? Has a city or region inspired you to write about it? As a reader, what are you favorite settings for books?