You know the old adage, "Home is where your heart is"?
My heart is in books.
I grew up in Queens, NY, a borough of New York City on the border of Bayside and Flushing, in a small garden apartment complex. As the song says, "We didn't have no internet" and there wasn't a lot to do except play outside when weather allowed.
But we always had annoying neighbors. One neighbor complained if we played on the corner where her apartment was. Another complained if our bicycles were outside. Still another complained if we played inside the complex's court yard.
With all those annoyed "Karens" to deal with, I eventually turned to reading as my sole source of entertainment.
Books transported me. They provided adventure that disturbed no one. Back then, I was reading Nancy Drew and Harlequin Presents fiction in which characters drove down quaint Main Streets and all the proprietors knew them by name. They allowed me to experience--albeit vicariously-- what it was like to live on farms, in small towns, in foreign countries. I knew in third grade that I wanted to write novels some day.
Nowadays, I live on Long Island about 60 miles from New York City, in a distinctly suburban area where there's little public transportation and everyone drives SUVs. Every town has a Main Street, though how quaint each is depends on what part of Long Island I happen to be in. That's actually one thing I love about Long Island -- how varied it is. Towns like Farmingdale, Huntington, Port Jefferson, Cold Spring Harbor, have quaint walking Main Streets. An hour's drive further east, and Long Island transforms into New England, with antique shops, farm stands, and wineries. About half an hour west of my home brings me to Sea Cliff, a town famous for its Queen Anne Victorian houses.
|Main Street, Huntington|
|Port Jefferson, NY|
|Cold Spring Harbor, NY|
It should come as no great shock that I set my novels in New York or on Long Island. My most recent contemporary romance, NOBODY SAID IT'D BE EASY, is set in Bayside, not far from the community college I attended. Because I always felt invisible growing up there, living there, I deliberately showed main character Lia making friends everywhere she goes in this novel.
|The Bell Boulevard sign from the Cross Island Parkway...used in NOBODY SAID IT'D BE EASY|
My most recent YA title, SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW, is partially set in a fictional town based on Stony Brook, a college town close to my home.
Remember what I said about those quaint Main Streets, with shop keepers who know everyone's names? That's likely one of the reasons why small town romance is such a beloved trope. I wrote a romantic suspense built around a small Long Island town that I hope sells soon.