“Write what you love and know.” That’s the advice given to writers.
I fell in love with the Rhodesian Ridgeback the first time I saw one at a dog show. I love their temperament, their intelligence, and their personalities. I’ve shown them, bred them, whelped them, cried when I sent a puppy off to a new owner, and been as proud as a mother when one won at a dog show.
I also love living in the country. I have childhood memories of catching pollywogs in the creek that ran by our two acres in Walnut Creek, California; being able to pick ripe peaches from the tree (also almonds, pears, English walnuts, apricots and more); and sitting in my “thinking” tree making up stories.
When I married my husband, we were living in Santa Barbara, but his father was ill and we decided to move to Michigan to be closer to him. It was supposed to be a short-term move (just a couple years, my husband said). I won’t tell you how many years we’ve now lived in Michigan, but we now have grown children and teenage granddaughters. I haven’t regretted the move. Michigan is a beautiful state, and for 27 years we lived in the rural community of Climax. What a perfect location for a romance writer, and what a neat place to plot a mystery with a lot of suspense. (Yes, there are some similarities between the real Climax and my imaginary Zenith in The Crows and As the Crow Flies, but the events and people in those books are definitely fictional.)
We’ve now moved close to Lake Michigan (so my husband is near his sailboat), and we spend our winters in Florida, not far from the Gulf Coast. Both locations feed my love of being near water (remember that creek I played in and Santa Barbara) and are ideal places to nurture my desire to write. Whether I’m writing a romance, a mystery, or a combination of the two, I’m probably going to include an animal or two and there’s a good chance the characters will live in the country, the mountains, or near water. I’ve often used Michigan and California as settings, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Florida shows up in a future book. I’m sometimes asked if the characters in my books are based on me or someone I know. My answer is: Maybe bits and pieces, but my protagonists are always braver and smarter than I am (along with younger) and the antagonists are always nastier than the people I’ve known.