Hi! Merrillee here. When I start a new story, I usually have the hero, the heroine and a problem. The next thing I need is a setting. Where do these people live? What setting will enhance the story? How will the place the characters live affect their lives? These are all questions I have to answer.
My goal is to write at least one book for every place I have lived. So far I have a series set in the small fictional town of Pinecrest, Washington, which I set near Spokane, Washington. I lived there when I was in high school. I took this photo of a sunset when I was visiting in Spokane. In all three books, my characters watch a sunset. Some of them see God's beautiful creation, while others find the array of colors an expression of their feelings. I especially like to use settings to convey character traits or feelings.
I also wrote one lone book set in Dallas, Texas, where we lived when my kids were in high school.
My next series of books is about three brothers, who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but two of them have found homes in different parts of the country. I loved writing the first book because it is set at the beach in Florida. I live near the beach, so I could easily imagine my characters frolicking in the surf. I could feel the sand between my toes and the sea breeze cooling off a hot afternoon along with my characters.
The second brother lives in South Dakota. How did he get there? Starting when he was twelve, he went to visit his uncle's farm in eastern South Dakota and he fell in love with small-town life and farming. Numerous readers, who either lived in South Dakota or visited there, wrote to tell me how much they enjoyed reading about places with which they were familiar.
The third brother, who is a big-city business man, finds himself with a new job in the mountains north of Atlanta. He has to learn to adjust to living in a small town. Instead of looking at skyscrapers, he's looking at mountains and lakes.
Settings are important. They often make the characters who they are. It influences the way they think, the way they talk and the way they view life. What kind of settings do you like to read about—the big city, a small town, the seashore, the mountains or the wide open spaces of the prairie?