Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guest Blogger Trish Milburn

Today we welcome author Trish Milburn. Join us as we take a trip to our favorite places and see some of our favorite things - mainly firefighters. :)

Returning to Favorite Settings with Trish Milburn

As I look back over all the many books I’ve read in my life, a lot of them have one aspect in common – they return to a setting used in a previous book. They can be small towns found in category romances, the gritty cities found in urban fantasies, or entirely different worlds. But if I really love a book, I can’t wait to return to the world in which it is set and to see what the characters are doing, even if the main characters in the previous book are now simply secondary or walk-on characters. But there’s a wonderful sense of familiarity and being a part of that world.

Some of these series or sequels have me so anxious to return that I’m at the bookstore on release day, ready to fork over my credit card so I can rush home and dive in. For instance, after reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, a young adult novel set in the dystopian future country of Panem, I was hooked – by the concept, by the characters and by the world itself. I wanted to know what happened next so much that I couldn’t buy the second in the trilogy, Catching Fire, fast enough. I inhaled it. Now, I’m counting down the days until Mockingjay, the final book in the trilogy, releases in August.

But a desire to return to a favorite literary locale doesn’t have to be some fantastical place like Hogwarts of Middle-earth. It can be the homey towns depicted by popular authors such as Debbie Macomber, the Alaskan bush showcased in mystery author Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak mystery series, or the Scotland and England of long ago detailed by Diana Gabaldon in the Outlander series.

This returning to already created settings is also attractive to me as a writer. I spend so much time creating a place that it’s hard to let it go when a single book is done. And I like having lots of relationships in my books – families, friends, co-workers – so there are always more stories to tell in my small towns. Such is the case for my March release from Harlequin American, The Family Man. This book is connected to my first book, A Firefighter in the Family. We return to the Gulf Coast town of Horizon Beach to follow the love story of Detective Sara Greene and Adam Canfield, who was the best friend of Zac Parker, the hero in A Firefighter in the Family. Adam was one of those fun-loving secondary characters who provided comic relief in the first book. But there was more to him, I was sure of it. So I returned to Horizon Beach, which is one part fiction and one part actual locales in the Destin/Ft. Walton Beach area, to tell his story. It was fun to return to some of the places I’d described in A Firefighter in the Family and see some familiar faces crossing Sara’s and Adam’s paths.

What about you? Do you like books that return to familiar settings? Do you like to write these kinds of books? Read them? What are some of your favorites? One commentor will win a copy of both A Firefighter in the Family and The Family Man.
For more on Trish Milburn (and her YA-writing alter ego, Tricia Mills), visit her at www.trishmilburn.com.

37 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

Oh gosh yes!! One of the first romances I read was by Maven LJ and it started on the steps of the county courthouse. She had a whole series of books set right here in town and I just love them! I could imagine what neighborhoods the characters lived in and secretly wanted to steal Luther away from Cleo (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are). ;-)

Stephanie said...

I am with Trish and PM on this one. I can't wait to re-visit worlds that I have fallen in love with to see what the folks there are up to. Jayne Ann Krentz's books that she writes as Jayne Castle are a perfect example. I can't wait to go back to the world she created on Harmony with each one of the books set there.

I hadn't thought about it much in these terms but perhaps this love of returning to a book's setting is one reason that Writing Partner and I have done exactly that with two different worlds. As Trish said, it is difficult to let go when you have crafted a world where you love the place and the people who live there.

californiameaghan said...

i love series that continue with the same charcters, but i also love books that are set in the same place and mention the other characters but have different main characters each time. i feel like i get to know them better that way.

meaghan_koci (at) yahoo (dot) com

Smarty Pants said...

Thanks for visiting, Trish. I, too, like going back to visit someplace in a book series. It seems so familiar, like I'm one of the residents. I also really like to visit the actual place (if there is one) to see what it looks like. We went to Culloden in Scotland and could see all the places from the battle in Outlander. It was very cool (and quite disturbing) to see it.

Instigator said...

Welcome, Trish! I love revisiting places that I've fallen in love with. I'm a sucker for a series - connected by people or just the place. Once I feel at home somewhere it just seems easier to slip back there in my mind.

Instigator

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Good morning, everyone! Thanks for having me here today.

Playground Monitor, it is neat when you can really visualize a setting in a book because you've actually been there. I really like to visit my settings before writing the books. That's not always possible (like with my YA, Winter Longing, that's due out in August, which is set in Alaska), but I do prefer it to get the sights, sounds, smells, the feel of a place just right.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Stephanie, another benefit of returning to a setting you've used before is that a lot of the specifics have already been done, thus you don't have to create an entire new setting.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

californiameaghan, I like seeing characters from previous books make appearances in later books too, even if it's only for a scene. Right now, I'm working on revisions for my first continuity book, and those are really dependent on the setting being the same over the course of the six books. It's challenging to do with six different writers, but I think readers will really like how the place (a huge ranch in Wyoming) comes alive. The series (The Codys: The First Family of Rodeo) starts in July, and my book (the 5th) comes out in October.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Smarty Pants, that trip to Culloden sounds awesome. There is something powerful about standing in a place where something so historic happened. I had that feeling when I stood on the battlefield at the Little Bighorn in Montana.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hi, Instigator (I'm loving these screen names). I love slipping into those familiar settings too. I think they're so familiar to me that I don't have to work to process the setting details and can just sit back and enjoy the story. And to me, when done well, setting can be a character in and of itself.

Sherry Werth said...

Hi Trish and Welcome!
I'm a series junkie. Like the others said, it's like going back to a special place to visit with old friends and family. The only hard part is waiting for the next one to come out!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Sherry, I so agree that the wait is often difficult for the next installment. I'm anxiously awaiting the next Suzanne Collins and J.R. Ward. And the wait for the Harry Potter books was crazy. Now I'm anxiously awaiting the opening of the Harry Potter theme park in Florida.

Anna Sugden said...

Yay - not long to wait for another fabulous Trish book!

I love connected books and returning to familiar settings. Whether it's JD Robb's amazing In Death series or Susan Mallery's various series - it's like returning to a favourite place.

Though, I must admit, with all the thrillers/RS's I read, it can be a little daunting with so many nasty criminals and murders in one place! I remember someone once asking if Oxford was a dangerous place because so many people died in the Morse books!

Caroline Storer said...

I love continuity books. It's like returning to the family - like in your favourite soap opera. Caroline :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hiya WPers!!!! Hiya Trish! Trish, what an interesting post. And by the way, you get great covers, my friend! Actually I think one of the reasons for the popularity of Regency romance is that readers love returning to that world - even if it's written by different people with a slightly different take on it. As a writer, I don't actually write series but I think the world my characters inhabit has a similarity. It's definitely MY take on the Regency and that's consistent throughout the books. If anyone's read Tempt the Devil, you'll remember Lord Peregrine's completely over the top house. It was such fun to have the lovers in My Reckless Surrender meet there - that house was a hoot to write in all its glitz and glory.

Kim Law said...

Hey, Trish! Love this cover!!! And yes, I love returning to familiar places, both reading and writing. I will often actually look for books that will clearly have more coming out in the same setting. And then, of course, it drives me crazy having to wait to the next one! Looking forward to reading this one of yours!

Nancy said...

I love familiar settings, Trish. I like feeling that I know the world and the charcters already.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

HI Trish! Another Romance Bandit popping by. I love, love, love returning to "familiar" locales, both as a writer and as a reader. :> Anna C, I'm so excited about you using Lord Peregrine's house again. TOTALLY cool. And Trish, the familiar towns and settings - the world you've built - makes for such a warm read, don't you think? It's a cozy feeling, even if the story is edge-of-your-seat suspense. :>

Tawny said...

Settings, like characters, can be wonderful to revisit! Getting to know the area the story takes place really grounds events and makes it all more 'real' to the imagination *g*

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Anna, you're so sweet. I really hope you like The Family Man (which, incidentally, was titled by our fellow Bandita Suz).

And yeah, sure wouldn't want to live in one of those RS towns where people were being offed left and right.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Caroline, so glad you like continuities. There's nothing like a good continuity where, by the end, you'd swear the place and people are real.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Anna C., I think you make an excellent point about readers of Regencies loving to return again and again to that world. That's how I feel about westerns. I grew up watching westerns, still love them when Hollywood actually makes one (loved 3:10 to Yuma). I love that feel of taking off into the wild unknown, a vast, beautiful and dangerous frontier.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hey, Kim! Good to see you here (still bummed I didn't get to go to that hockey game with you, Gret and Lara).Thanks so much for the comment on the cover (and to you too, Anna C.). I have been so fortunate in my covers for American and my YA books so far. When I saw this one, I immediately dubbed him Mr. Yummy! :) I told the art department that he was supposed to look a bit like Eric Dane (McSteamy from Grey's Anatomy), and I think they did a pretty darn good job.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Nancy, I'm not at all surprised that you like returning to familiar settings. :) Thanks for popping by.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Jeanne, I think "cozy" is a good word for it. It's familiar, like you've literally been there before.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Thanks for the comment, Tawny. I think you're right. I know I've read books where the setting was so unimportant that it could have taken place anywhere. But those aren't the books I remember. Even going back to childhood, setting was so important in my favorite reads -- the Little House on the Prairie books, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Julie of the Wolves, The Swiss Family Robinson, etc.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ooh, you've named some of my fav books from childhood, Trish, and for the very reason. The setting and situation was so cool, so interesting, it was as if it were another character in the books...

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon Trish,
I enjoy both. An area I'm familiar with and then those I've never been to. Linda Howard sets some of her books here in AL. But I also enjoy Susan E. Phillips locations in Chicago, where I have never been. I learn so much.
robertsonreads

Kathy said...

Welcome to the playground, Trish! It's so great to see you here. :)

I love the feeling I get when I open up a sequel and its like a big SURPRISE party or a WELCOME home sign has been raised. Journeying back into the world a writer has created is like being in an amusement park where a new ride has been added. There is so much aniticipated build up that the feeling doesn't ease until the first ride is over or the last page has been turned.

You can't beat that in a good series, or a good amusement park. (Can't wait to venture into Hogwarts myself)

Problem Child said...

I'm tardy but I have my pages done for the day!

Welcome Trish!

I do love to revisit places and characters. After all, I've invested in them for one book, they're like friends and home and I can't wait to see what they're up to!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

robertsonreads, it's nice to have a mixture of settings -- ones you've been to and ones where the author makes you feel like you've been there.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Kathy, that's such a cool comparison with a favorite amusement park with a new ride. I can't wait to go to Disney World next month, to immerse myself in that magical world again.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hello, Problem Child. (Have I mentioned these names are giving me the giggles?) Congrats on getting your pages done for the day. I'm pretty darn happy myself at the moment. I just finished my continuity book revisions and sent them to my editor. Can you all hear me singing The Hallelujah Chorus? :)

chey said...

I like to revisit settings and people in series. I like to visit new places and characters in books too.

chey127 at hotmail dot com

robynl said...

I do love to visit old familiar places and it is so nice that series books do this for us.
Sandra Brown's Texas Trilogy takes place in the same place for all 3 books.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

chey and robynl, thanks so much for the comments. Sorry I disappeared for awhile. My husband was playing in a corporate band challenge tonight (he plays guitar), so I went to play groupie. :)

Thanks so much for having me here today. It's been fun hanging out with you fabulous gals.

Laurie said...

I like books that are connected whether by family or setting. I like Susan Wiggs and her Lakeshore Chronicles set in the Adirondecs in NY. Debbie Macomber and her Cedar Cove series, Kate Hoffmann and her Mighty Quinn's, set in the Boston area. I liked Harlequin's Tyler, Wisconsin series. Diana Palmer and her Jacobsville, Texas setting and the King ranch setting. Susan Mallery has so many connected books. Julia Quinn and her Bridgerton family series.

I like them because you feel like you belong to the community or are a distant relative. There's a connection arecognition that makes you feel at home!