Shannon here: Karin Beery shares the inspiration for the setting of her books. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for a copy of her latest Contemporary Romance, Summer Plans and Other Disasters. Deadline: June 15th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Karin:
The Perfect Setting for Romance Novels
One of my favorite things about Michigan is the seasons. Whether you prefer summer or winter, Michigan’s the perfect backdrop to create a romantic scene or increase the romantic tension. Strolling through fields of flowers. Caught in a thunderstorm. Bundled together under a blanket on a hayride. Trapped in a blizzard.
Even better than the seasons? Rural small towns. These often-picturesque towns provide the right amount of population and isolation to create a fun cast of characters while limiting access to all of our modern conveniences.
Here’s how simple it is:
Want to create some romantic tension between the hero and the heroine? Whip up a windstorm that strands them together. Want to really create some tension? Put them in a small town and have the wind knock over a tree that blocks their only exit. That might not be too easy to achieve in an urban area with dozens of roads in and out of town, but it’s possible in northern Michigan, where there might be only one road to/from a town at the end of a peninsula.
I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life, so I know how to use my surroundings in a story. It’s so much fun (and so easy!) to mess with the characters’ lives and give them an excuse to run to each other.
In my first novel (Summer Plans and Other Disasters), I needed a reason for the hero (Ryan) to worry about the heroine (Callie). It had to be real fear, but how do you do that in a romantic comedy? I didn’t want to include a crime or any real danger, but I’d also put the characters in their small home town. It wasn’t like Callie could get lost. It was also the summer time, which means thousands of tourists available to help or call 9-1-1!
Then I remembered a time I’d been exploring a remote part of the Lake Michigan shoreline with friends. We traipsed through the woods to the beach and stayed until the sunset at this little-known location. We didn’t realize, however, that it was a new moon. The perfect night for star gazing, but terrible for hiking through an unfamiliar forest. The only other time I’ve been in such darkness was in a cave in Ireland. Without a flashlight (and before cell phones included them), we stumbled through darkness until someone from another group came back to help us.
It was stressful at the time (I honestly thought we’d have to spend the night on the beach), but it eventually became the perfect way to separate Ryan and Callie while creating some romantic tension between them in the process.
For my next novel (coming this October), I moved ahead several months for a late fall/early winter story. Talk about opportunities! This time I pulled a character out of Ohio and dropped her in northern Michigan. Then I introduced her to all of my favorite local issues:
- Roads with the same name
- Spotty cell phone service
- A small town where everyone knows everyone else
- Freezing rain
- Lake-effect snow
There are countless other ways to use this location and the seasons to bring characters together (or keep them apart). I’m getting ready to start my sixth manuscript now, and I’m still setting them in small northern Michigan towns. They really are the perfect setting for romance novels.
About Karin: Karin Beery grew up in a rural Michigan town where she wrote her first novel in high school. Today, she writes contemporary stories with a healthy dose of romance. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s reading, editing, or teaching it. In her free time, she enjoys being at home with her husband and fur babies watching University of Michigan football and action-adventure movies. Learn more and connect:
To receive the free, unpublished prologue to Summer Plans and Other Disasters—and for more information about Karin, her books, and her pets—sign up for her newsletter today: Karin’s Newseltter.
About the book – Summer Plans and Other Disasters:
Elementary school music teacher Callie Stevens thinks she’s finally figured out God ’s plan for her life—she even made a list to keep her on track. Moving in with her brother and reconnecting with her ex-boyfriend are at the top of the list. What ’s not on the list is running into her childhood crush, Ryan. God wanted her to connect with Kyle, right? Trying to figure out God ’s plan is hard enough. But a dating-averse older brother, the young blonde who adores him, a pregnant best friend, and Callie ’s continual mishaps make her wonder whether her best-laid plans were truly God-inspired.
Can’t wait for the drawing or worried you won’t win? Get your copy now!
Question for Readers: What’s your favorite setting-related romance trope (e.g. stranded in a cabin in a blizzard, a street fair, etc.)?
Come back June 7th for Dana R. Lynn!