It’s what writers do, of course. We create heroes and heroines and give them strengths and flaws and backstories. We generate secondary characters who fill their lives with love and laughter and conflict. We also create the settings these people live in, and one of my favorite parts of writing is imagining a whole new community for them.
My third Harlequin Heartwarming will be released next week, and it’s the third one to be set in a fictional small town. Sometimes I’ve made them up, and sometimes they’re based on a similar small town that really does exist.
Maggie’s Way, my first book for the line, is set in Collingwood Station, Connecticut. Now I have to be honest with you. I have never been to Connecticut, but in my mind I pictured a quaint little town similar to Stars Hollow in the TV series, The Gilmore Girls.
The Parent Trap, is set on the Sunshine Coast on Canada’s beautiful west coast in a town called Serenity Bay. This community isn’t based on anything, either real or fictional. Instead it’s a compilation of things I love about numerous small towns all shamelessly borrowed and rolled into one.
To Catch a Wife, the first book in The Finnegan Sisters trilogy, will be out next week on May 1st. This story unfolds in the town of Riverton, Wisconsin, which is loosely modelled on the City of Wabasha, Minnesota. As much as I loved Wabasha, I didn’t want to use it as the setting for this series there because I really don’t know much about the town or the people who live there. It would be far too easy to get things wrong. So I did what writers get to do. I made stuff up.
First of all, I took the town and moved it to Wisconsin on the other side of the Mississippi River. I gave it a new name—Riverton—and freely set about filling it with the things I love most about all small towns. Here are just a few of the things I love about Wabasha, MN, and Riverton, WI.
Several years ago I had the good fortune to spend a day in Wabasha, browsing the shops along Main Street and visiting the National Eagle Center.
|I love these classic two-storey brick buildings that line so many Main Streets in so many small towns.|
|Harriet graciously posed for a photograph with me at the National Eagle Center.|
|The gazebo on the cover of To Catch a Wife was inspired by this one.|
|This photo captures the heroine’s best friend’s barber shop and the cafe where they like to hang out and have lunch.|
|In the story, the heroine’s apartment situated on the second floor above the newspaper office was inspired by this one over a bookstore.|
|This house is new but the style and especially the wrap-around veranda were exactly what I was going for when I created the farmhouse at Finnegan Farm, home to four generations of the heroine's family.|
To celebrate the impending release of To Catch a Wife, I'm offering two giveaways this month. One winner will receive a signed copy of Maggie's Way and another will received a signed copy of The Parent Trap. Both books will be accompanied other yet-to-be-determined goodies. Let's call it a surprise pack! On Friday, April 29 I will make a random drawing from the readers who post a comment on this post. The winners' names will be announced here and in the next issue of my newsletter, Life in the Slow Lane.
Until next time,
To Catch a Wife, Book One of The Finnegan Sisters trilogy
On sale May 1