PUTTING YOUR STORY IN ITS PLACE
A week-long seminar on The Poetry of Place pounded the importance of setting into a prominent section of my writing brain (and obviously a penchant for alliteration, as well). Setting ghost stories in old deserted houses and romances with views of the ocean places the reader into a place with a familiar personality, giving instant connection to emotions already in place. Just think of the places you’ve been that stand out as the most memorable, and you’ll understand how much personality setting can have.
I tend to think of setting as a ubiquitous giant of a character who pulls and tugs at the edges and pushes from the heart to shape the story into its most perfect form. My three most recent books from Harlequin Superromance—and the next two on the way—have just such a character named Taylor’s Grove, Kentucky.
When I started world-building the small, Western Kentucky town, I pulled from my hometown of Paducah, Kentucky, as well as other smaller towns where I’ve lived. Most important to keep in mind was how essential it was to remain true to the nature of the area.
Western Kentucky is Southern to the core in culture, language, and flavor, and what better way to personify those characteristics than the inclusion of a church, a school, and a diner? And the town is set on Kentucky Lake, so, of course, there had to be a marina.
Bit by bit, the town grew under the strokes of my fingers on the keys. With each addition of a place within the place—a street, a house, a business, the park at the center of town—the people cradled in its palm became more real to me until the town took on a personality all its own.
My giant was born.
Most surprising to me, though probably it shouldn’t have been, has been the realization that Taylor’s Grove is a dynamic entity that changes, grows, and adapts with each story to keep from being left behind and forgotten like those sad old ghost towns out West.
Change isn’t easy and certainly not always welcome, but it’s a fact of life we all face and a necessity, even for my gentle giant. And so, the giant stands tall and stretches its arms, pushing the boundaries that one time confined it … and making me one very proud mama.
The world of Taylor’s Grove has become an integral part of these stories—just like a supporting character—so important actually, that the story would change if the town disappeared in a flood or if I tried to set the stories anywhere else. I see the town vividly in my mind and strive to make the reader see it through my eyes—strive to breathe life into the community so the reader thinks of it as a good friend and wants to come back again and again.
Just like in the real world, Taylor’s Grove has to compete with “bigger and better” places that offer more excitement. My books don’t take place only in the little village. That would be boring … and there is a whole world out there.
But Taylor’s Grove is the place my characters come home to, welcoming them with warm, giant hugs.
Some stay and some leave, but Taylor’s Grove stays in their hearts forever.
I hope you’ll plan a visit. Any of my Taylor’s Grove books will take you there, but they might be more fun to visit in the order they were written so you can experience those growth spurts the town has gone through.
Book 1—Moonlight in Paris
Book 2—His Kind of Perfection
Book 3—My Way Back to You
Book 4—Right Where We Started (coming Dec. 1)
Book 5—TBA (coming Spring 2016)
MORE ABOUT PAMELA
Although she now makes the Midwest her home, Pamela Hearon will forever remain a Southern gal. Born and raised in Kentucky, the values, humor, and dialects of the South infuse her writing with down-home warmth—no matter how exotic the setting.
Writing was always one of Pamela’s favorite past-times. Childhood stories and angst-filled teenage poetry eventually led the way to book-length fiction—and the past-time began a passion.
Pamela is an avid reader, gardener, and enjoys traveling with her husband, searching for that next story that begs to be written.
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For a chance to win an autographed set of the first three books in the Taylor’s Grove series (US/Canada only), tell Pamela a book setting you’ve read that has a personality you can’t forget. To enter, use the form below.
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