(Cross posted from TRS blog)

Location, location, location

In any ending there is a beginning. Even though the economy is looking up, I lost one of my many part time jobs a few weeks ago, and another one is on hiatus. So, pinching my pennies and looking for coupons, I decided to take a break for a while and concentrate on spending time with my son and writing.

It’s been so worth it. In just these few weeks, I’ve gotten so much done. I’ve got two manuscripts in my own final editing stages ready to go off to my editor for a thumps up or down (up? Please up?). I’ve got another three manuscripts well on the way to solid beginnings, everything from erotic sci-fi to erotic historical.

I’m excited about writing again, and how much fun it is to tell a story!

But something I’ve been struck by is the role location can play in a romance. It can be a silent backdrop, a fun accent, or even another character in a story.

In some of my work, I start off with a clear story plan, and then time and especially place interfere, creating a different world than I ever would have expected. It’s certainly true when a place is the complete invention of the author. In my Lithian Lusts series (including Seeds of Garnet, Sea of Pearls and Veins of Turquoise), I had so much fun creating the Planet Lithos that by the third book, the planet itself was definitely a character, and the boundaries between what was alive and what was rock became very fluid. I loved that planet so much I might just return one of these days to explore it more.

But even real locations can become characters in the story. Enchant the Dawn, the first book in the Passion Magic series, is set in New York City of 1926. I was focused on the excitement of the a flapper era and the tangle of magic between Daron and Sophia, but NYC couldn’t be denied its moment to shine. The energy and vitality of the city pulsed through the plot, and I hope the reader can taste the kind of rhythm that the Big Apple can sing.

Washington D.C. played a part in the next Passion Magic book. The sense of purpose within D.C. is always there, but never more so than during WWII. The frantic energy and hope and fear all combine to give a special energy to the sexy magic between a speechless Brit Magi and a special intelligence agent who can understand any language under the sun. It’s Christmas time and the city is split between holiday spirit and air raids. I just loved reading up on the geography of the city at the time and what were the landmarks and the feel of the place during such a hum of activity.

There are times when a location is so compelling, I have to find a story to be set there. I’ve just finished a manuscript set in the Italian Alps, tentatively titled Divine the Sin, and the heart of it is the beauty of the mountains. I have to say although it’s set in the Alps, my inspiration is my beloved Sierra Nevada in California. I love the mountains, and Cassandra, my heroine in Divine the Sin has lived an ugly life, and the beauty of the mountains and the people who live there is her salvation.

One of the manuscripts I’m currently working on is another Passion Magic story, set in Hawaii. My family has some deep roots in Hawaii, and I love it there. I wanted to share some of the unique history of the Big Island, and so when I thought of a story that needed a setting full of horses and lonely stretches, the Parker Ranch in the north of the Big Island was the perfect solution. The magic and multicultural heritage of Hawaii have ended up being a huge character in the story, the lifeblood of the tale. Now — if only I could afford some airline tickets to visit for "research".

Another place I would love to visit features in my April release Command the Wind. The Isle of Wight is the setting, and this is the one Passion Magic story I’ve written where I’ve never visited the locale. I had a great time looking at old maps, photos and travelers’ descriptions of the Isle and its history. Again, I was looking for a place important to the invasion of the Spanish Armada, and what I ended up finding was a place whose beauty helps bring the story to life, whose shores become a key part of the tale. Someday, I dream of being able to visit the Isle of Wight and view some of the vistas I fell in love with from all my research. I think Cora and Marcus would love me to see the vineyard that inspired so much of the story.

Are there any places that you know would make a fantastic setting for a romance, but have so far been neglected? Drop me an email at [email protected] or visit my website at elainelowenovels.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Elaine Lowe is a work-at-home mom in Silicon Valley. With a background in bioengineering and pharmaceutical chemistry, writing has long been a passion in which she didn’t think she could indulge. Now, she’s living out a bit of a dream with the publication of her novels, including Tears of Talent with Cobblestone Press, Match Made by Moonlight with Cerridwen Press, Nancy’s Sweet Spelling Bee, Scandalous Profession, Lady Six Sky, Lithian Lusts (Seeds of Garnet, Sea of Pearls and Veins of Turquoise) and the Passion Magic series (Enchant the Dawn, Reveal the Heart, Command the Wind) with Ellora’s Cave.