Talk about the setting of your book. Is it entirely imaginary or is it based on a real-life place?
I love writing stories that allow readers to tap into the fantasy and escapism that fiction provides. At the same time, I like to include points of reference from my environment. Similar to integrating real-life characters experience, my story plots also contain geographical references to position readers in characters’ environments, potentially essential to reinforce arches and allow them to relate.
Settings in the romance genre tend to be at economic and geographic extremes. At a Popular Cultural Association conference, romance scholar Jodi McAllister pointed out that romance plots frequently unfold between female protagonists and rich men in cities or small-town bearded hunks. She posed a question asking why people didn’t seem to fall in love in the suburbs. She made a great point. I spent my teens and early adult life reading about ridiculously wealthy men taking their love interests to bed. Not necessarily a bad thing, I enjoyed the escapism, but not everyone lives like that way, nor do they exist in tiny towns with one traffic light. I want my readers to see themselves in my stories.
I set my romance characters in a variety of professions and living situations. Protagonists must work for a living and traverse familiar spaces. In the Brothers in Law series, instead of the typical Manhattan highrise settings, live in historically Black Harlem and gentrified Brooklyn. At the beginning of My Way to You, the main character Simon meets his best friend Marcus at Sylvia’s after returning home from law school. Simon and his love interest Regina grew up in the less “sexy” Queens and suburban Suffolk County on Long Island, respectively.
I centered suburban life in the Open to Love novella series. I feature the stomping grounds of Long Island, New York residents, including the lifeline Long Island Expressway and halal restaurants like Nazar. One reader loved that moved away from city landmarks.
I loved that the setting was my home (Long Island) There were several subtle hints and clues to that throughout. – Open to Love reader
I am unsure if I will ever build a new world completely remote from mine. I even ground my paranormal works-in-progress in it. Some may consider it lazy. I don’t. Environment influences storytelling. Writers using it offers a connection that deepens vicarious realities and humanity.