“Write what you love and know.” That’s the advice given to writers.
I love living in a small, rural town
My first twelve years were spent growing up in Walnut Creek, California (when Walnut Creek was still a small town), and I have childhood memories of catching pollywogs in the creek that ran by us, of being able to pick ripe peaches from the trees on our two acres (also almonds, pears, English walnuts, apricots, and more); and sitting in my “thinking” tree making up stories. When I married my husband, I was going to U.C. Santa Barbara, but two years later we decided to move to Michigan. 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 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, As the Crow Flies, and Eat Crow and Die, but the events and people in those books are definitely fictional.)
I love animals
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. Over the years I’ve owned several: It seemed natural to use a Ridgeback in my “Crows” books. We’ve also owned hunting dogs (my husband’s), German Shepherds, and now a poodle.
When we lived near Climax, we owned horses and raised (at various times) chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, goats, and even one steer. I would say we also owned many cats, but I think they owned us.
I love being near the water
We’ve now moved close to Lake Michigan (so my husband is near his boat), 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.
I love happy (or at least satisfying) endings
Whether I’m writing or reading a romance, a mystery, or a combination of the two, I want a satisfying ending (girl gets guy and/or good guys get bad guys). For my books, 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.