It’s my joy to introduce you to my friend, Katie Ganshert! Katie contacted me at a writers conference two years ago because she’d enjoyed My Stubborn Heart. We shared lunch and struck up a friendship. The next chance I got, I read her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, and was blown away by her literary and lovely, emotional and creative writer’s voice. We’ve been buddies ever since! Plus, she’s the one who battles me in our Pinterest Challenges. For more on that, click here. In short, she’s awesome.
Chances are, you’ve heard of at least one of these places. And yet, none of them are real. You can’t find them on a map or vacation there during spring break. They exist only because someone imagined them, then went on to canonize them in the world of fiction.
I’m a big fan of fictional settings. In fact, all of my published works take place in them. . .
Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows are set in the fictional farming town of Peaks, Iowa.
A Broken Kind of Beautiful takes place in the fictional island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina.
My recently released novella, An October Bride, is set in Mayfair, Wisconsin.
And the main setting for my upcoming novel, The Art of Losing Yourself, is Bay Breeze, Florida.
You might be wondering why? I mean, why go to the trouble of conjuring up a fictional town when there are plenty of perfectly fine, real-life towns to choose from?
The answer to that is simple.
There’s a whole lot of freedom that comes when creating a town from scratch. I can make it as big or as small as I’d like. I get to consider the layout, the culture, the hangout spots, the popular restaurants, and the shops, all of which gives me a lot of freedom when plotting.
If I need there to be an old-fashioned general store (The Art of Losing Yourself), then voila! It’s there.
If I need there to be a fall harvest festival, or a cute diner for townsfolk to swap gossip, or a pumpkin patch and a corn maze (all in An October Bride), then voila! I imagine them into existence.
If I need an ocean or a river or a lake, no problem!
It’s a lot like creating a character, only bigger.
I usually start by choosing a general location, then move on to the researching phase. Sometimes I visit the area. Or in the case of Peaks, I already live in the area. I buy travel guides, read local blogs, and peruse local news station websites. I find people from the area to interview. And let me tell you, I ask random questions. Things you can’t learn from the travel books. Like, what sounds are common in the area? What smells? What’s the vernacular? What baseball team do most people root for? I learn about the foods, the wildlife, the weather, and everything in between.
Once I’m finished with the research, I try to find a similar-sized town to fashion my fictional town after (I loosely based Peaks, Iowa off of LeClaire; Bay Breeze, Florida off of Seaside). I start listing businesses, restaurants, parks, police stations, schools, the layout of the downtown, etc. I make a map. I even name the roads.
It’s my hope that by doing these things, the town feels authentic. Like a place you could actually step into and visit.
Whenever a reader asks me where to find Peaks, Iowa or one of the other fictional towns I’ve created, it never ceases to bring a big smile to my face.
What if the only way you could make your father’s last wish come true… was to marry the man of your dreams?
Emma Tate has just moved on from one fiance, so when she announces a sudden engagement to her lifelong buddy Jake Sawyer, every busybody in Mayfair goes into high alert. Of course, no one but Jake and Emma know the real reason they’re getting marred — so Emma’s dying father will have a chance to walk her down the aisle.
But while Jake and Emma move forward with their plan– and frantically plan an October wedding– it becomes clear that their agreement has a few complications… the biggest being their true feelings for each other. With dubious friends, deliriously thrilled parents, and a town that won’t keep its nose out of their business, Emma and Jake will have a lot to contend with if they’re going to pull this off. The real question is: Who wants this wedding more, Emma’s dad… or Emma?
Becky here! One last quick thing. I wanted Inspired by Life…and Fiction readers to know that my newest contemporary romance, Meant to Be Mine, is currently on sale! A great deal for those of you who read on e-readers!
Now for Katie’s closing question: What’s your all-time favorite fictional setting?