In most of our books, Racheline and I set the action in real, tangible places. Often, we write with Google Maps open in one tab and Wikipedia in another, double-checking street names and population demographics. For Midsummer, our process was a bit different. We didn’t pick a real, specific location, but we can wave our hand vaguely at a map.
Midsummer is a contemporary romance, but there are also paranormal elements in it, including a protagonist who may or may not be a changeling. With that in mind, we don’t want The Theater in the Woods to be a place that we can point to on a map; we want our characters — and the readers — to be immersed in a place that interacts with a world not quite our own.
I was sixteen the first time I travelled to Virginia, for a family vacation. It was so hot the temperature difference between sunlight and shade was dramatic. It was so humid, mist formed over creeks and streams. And all the plant life looked slightly alien — the trees were almost like what we had at home, but not quite. And then five years ago, my partner and I moved just outside Washington, D.C. Now, we spend summer weekends — the ones that aren’t too miserably hot and humid to venture outside — rambling around the woods and fields near our house.
When Racheline and I first started working on Midsummer (Love’s Labours Book 1 – Twelfth Night, Book 2, also from Dreamspinner, is coming out this fall), we ran through a couple of different options as to where we wanted to set it. Wherever it was, we wanted the Theater in the Woods — the summerstock theater where the story is set — to have trees. The magic and mystery of the woods is vitally important to the story, especially the character Michael. We also considered Vermont (Where I’ve also attended summerstock Shakespeare productions) Washington State.
That’s a great idea – I think you’ve always got to have some sort of grounding in reality, to start the setting, but no need to be trapped by it!