Thursday, August 23, 2018

Globe Trotting with Jeannette de Beauvoir


INGRID THOFT

Our own Lucy raised the issue of setting a few weeks ago—how well does a writer need to know their setting for it to ring true?—and today, Jeannette de Beauvoir joins us to share her experience with choosing the perfect place for her mysteries.  

Where in the World?
I wrote my first novel when I was eight years old. (It wasn’t very good.) I was living in my hometown of Angers, France, and it didn’t occur to me that Angers was a very nice place to live and would make an excellent setting for a book. Instead, I invented a place. I’m not going to blame the book’s awfulness on the venue I invented, but that should have told me something.

Over the years I followed up that rather pathetic beginning with a bunch of historical fiction rooted mostly in time—which has always been important to me—and in place only incidentally, merely because it happened to be where the events I used as a backdrop to my stories actually unfolded.
I remember the first time I realized how exciting it was for readers to read a novel set in a familiar place. It was one of Linda Barnes’ Carlotta Carlyle mysteries, and at the time I was living in Cambridge: I remember being entranced, not just by the story or the characters, but by the familiarity of the setting. I know that street! I eat at Mary Chung’s!

That familiarity delivered something a lot of the other mystery novels I was reading at the time didn’t: an instant physical rapport with the character. A sense of belonging in their world. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted that to be part of my writing, too. 

It works two ways: people who live in the venue feel at home, and people visiting it for the first time feel like they’re coming home.

There’s a story about the wonderful suspense novelist Phyllis Whitney that’s probably apocryphal (though I hope it’s not): it’s said that she would decide where she next wanted to go on vacation—say, Greece—and that choice would then become her setting for her next book, her vacation turning into a (pleasant) research trip. I can say from experience that visiting a place through a novelist’s eyes really does bring a new dimension to one’s travel: one is always wondering what if my protagonist went here? Who might she meet there? Where could some adventure befall her? It’s a game I play now all the time, and even though most of the places I visit don’t end up actually being used in a book, the exercise is rather fun.

I fell in love with Montréal decades ago when I first visited, but it wasn’t until I started really thinking about the place as inspiring the story—instead of the other way around—that I did some serious research into the city’s past and found the historical events that inspired "Asylum" and "Deadly Jewels," my two mysteries centering on PR director Martine LeDuc. And it wasn’t until I’d lived in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod for several years that I felt I really knew the place enough to situate a mystery series there; that’s the one I’m engaged in now, with wedding consultant Sydney Riley becoming what one of the shop owners in town calls “Provincetown’s answer to Jessica Fletcher.”

And while I love what every mystery novelist loves—readers contacting me about how they like a story, or my characters—what I love most of all is people who’ve lived here for decades telling me that I’ve really captured a sense of Ptown, that for them the venue is as much a character as the people who inhabit it.

I gave my dentist copies of my Montréal books to read before she and her husband went to Canada on vacation, and I was delighted when she came back and said, “okay, so I know that Martine prefers St. Viateur bagels to Fairmount bagels, but we tried both and I have to say I disagree with her.” While she obviously has no taste in bagels—Martine takes after me, professing St. Viateur allegiance in the long-established rivalry between the two bakeries—I was pleased that I’d made the city come alive for my dentist before she went, and enlivened it for her while she was there.
I’ll be honest: I’m not the world’s best mystery reader. We’ve all consumed authors who present startling twists at the end of their stories–Thomas H. Cook comes immediately to mind–but I’m the kind of reader who finishes any story—Agatha Christie, Jodi Picoult, anyone—and says, “Whoa, I never saw that coming.” I am not one of those who figures out who did it in the first three chapters. In fact, once I’ve finished reading a novel, I’m still muttering about how I still didn’t “get” this or that. I’m always surprised by the ending. So you could argue that someone as little engaged with plot as I am would indeed look to other ways to engage readers in a story.

But I like to think it’s more than that. I like to think that I’ve stumbled across something that’s fundamentally important: that where we are, where our stories take place, is important. That we as people, that our lives, are rooted somewhere. That context is as significant as plot. That Sydney Riley would be a different person if she lived in Albuquerque instead of Provincetown, and that her stories, even with similar plots, would play out differently there.



I’ll never visit some of the places I’ve read about in fiction, though at the hands of a skillful narrator I often feel as though I know them well. One of Mary Stewart’s books begins, “I met him in the street called Straight,” plunging the reader right into the pre-war souk of Damascus. Elleston Trevor’s spy scrambling through a wintry Moscow night made me understand how the city is arranged. (He, of course, apparently never visited the far-flung outposts of which he wrote; he stayed at his desk, armed with guides and maps.)But Sydney is real because the streets she walks on are real, the shops she visits are real, many of the people she encounters are real. So to tempt you to come visit Sydney’s town here on the tip of the Cape, here are some of her favorite things:
  1. Best oyster bar: Mac’s Seafood on Shank Painter Rd. There’s a special “happy hour” when the raw bar is half-priced. Mac is a fisherman himself, and it shows.
  2. Best museum: Instead of traipsing up the hill to the Monument, stay on MacMillan Wharf and take in the Pirate Museum, filled with artefacts from Black Sam Bellamy’s ship Whydah sunk in a nor’easter off Cape Cod.
  3. Best way to get out on the water: Either a cruise around the harbor on the Bay Lady, or renting a 19-foot sailboat from Flyer’s.
  4. Best place for a drink (summer): The Aqua Bar. Bring something from one of the vendors at the Aquarium Mall and enjoy a dinner and drink al fresco.
  5. Best sunset: Herring Cove beach
  6. Best to-go meal: Relish (try their gazpacho!)
  7. Required activity: Art’s Dune Tours. You don’t know Ptown until you’ve been on one.
  8. Sydney’s clothes shopping: The thrift shop at the Methodist church, Vintage in Vogue, and occasionally something from Marine Specialties.
  9. Favorite view: When you’re on route 6 and come to the top of the last hill in Truro and suddenly Provincetown is tin view, lying curved around the water that changes color every day. Sydney often says she lives in a postcard. It never fails to make her smile.

These and many other places make Provincetown what it is for Sydney: home.

Is there a place where you've visited that "speaks" to you?  Why?  Jeannette is giving away two ebooks of her latest, "The Deadliest Blessing."  Comment to enter!



The Deadliest Blessing: A Provincetown Mystery​​
If there’s a dead body anywhere in Provincetown, wedding consultant Sydney Riley is going to be the one to find it! The seaside town’s annual Portuguese Festival is approaching and it looks like smooth sailing until Sydney’s neighbor decides to have some construction done in her home—and finds more than she bargained for inside her wall.

​Now Sydney is again balancing her work at the Race Point Inn with an unexpected adventure that will eventually involve fishermen, gunrunners, a mummified cat, a family fortune, misplaced heirs, a girl with a mysterious past, and lots and lots of Portuguese food.  The Blessing of the Fleet is coming up, and unless Sydney can find the key to a decades-old murder, it might yet come back to haunt everyone in this otherwise-peaceful fishing village.

Jeannette de Beauvoir
I’m a novelist, poet, and playwright, and my work has appeared in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages. I like to explore personal and moral questions through different literary genres and I’m the author, under various pseudonyms, of mystery novels, historical and contemporary fiction, an award-winning book of poetry, and a number of produced plays.
​​
As you can imagine, I love to write. All the time. And I’d love to have you read some more of what I’m writing! My blog is over at Goodreads, and you can also find my posts at LinkedIn. And then of course there’s my monthly newsletter, to which you can subscribe on my website.

Finally, I don’t just write; I also edit manuscripts (from simple copyediting to much more substantive work) and teach writing, along with directing writing workshops and retreats, both online and onsite. I’d be very happy to help you with your writing projects!

59 comments:

  1. “Deadly Blessings” sounds like an intriguing mystery, Jeannette, and I’m looking forward to meeting Sydney and visiting her Provincetown . . . .

    I think it’s quite special when an author makes the place in the story come alive for the reader; the story and its characters seem that much more real . . . .

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    1. Thank you, Joan! I don't want to denigrate those incredibly creative writers—especially in SF and fantasy–who create whole worlds for their readers to inhabit. Tolkien was a genius. But I think that especially for the mystery genre, it's nice in some ways to start with something familiar. As an author, I'm taking the reader by the hand and bringing them into lives and situations they've never experienced, so they need to be able to trust me. And if we can start with a familiar place, that helps with the trust!

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  3. I go to the Falmouth area a couple of times a year and feel I know it, but I haven't been out to Ptown for decades. Must remedy that - through your books if not in person! Books that are "rooted in somewhere" as you put it, are the ones that truly come alive. The southwest really speaks to me, and I'm so excited to be making a trip to New Mexico next month. I love the clean air, the muted colors, the huge skies.

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    1. And I'll bet you'll find plenty of spaces out there that will inspire stories and characters, Edith, perhaps ones you haven't even met yet! (But, yes, you do also need to come out and visit us at land's end! Come out and have a coffee with me... or just stay home and take a stroll with Sydney!)

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    2. Next time I'm on the Cape I'll look you up! I have a new series debuting in December with Murder on Cape Cod - but I set it in a fictional town somewhere near Falmouth. ;^)

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    3. Oh, I can't wait for it! And *definitely* come see me, we can hang out on Ptown or I can come up to Falmouth—another beautiful Cape Cod town. I'd love to see you again (I think the last time was in Maine a few years ago, yikes!).

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  4. Welcome Jeannette! My books are set in Key West, so I believe we are setting sisters. I love Provincetown, so must find this series. Since you are an editor/teacher as well as a writer, I wonder if it's easier for you to spot problems in your own drafts--and fix them?

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    1. Oooh, Key West! We definitely both deal with the seasonal nature of these special places—quiet one season, awash in tourists the next! As for being an editor... I think that perhaps I might make fewer mistakes in my first drafts than other writers—I'm not even sure of that—but as for spotting and fixing my own problems? Not a chance! No one can self-edit, you're just too close to the material and your eye sees what your brain tells you is there... not what actually *is* there! I don't believe that anyone can really edit their own work, which is a fortunate thing for me, as it keeps me (more or less) gainfully employed!

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  5. Lovely essay.Montreal? Must go find these today! I love reading a book with a strong sense of place, whether revisiting ones I know or discovering someplace new-and I think it often grounds a mystery, where - let's face it- the plot is often somewhat far-fetched. And it is fun, and challenging, to write one that puts the reader right there in your place ( for me, the neighborhoods of Brooklyn) AND not lose sight of the plot.

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    1. Ah, yes, I love my Montréal books, they give me an excuse to spend time in my favorite city! I'll bet there's a lot of history and character and flavor that a series set in Brooklyn can give the reader, too. I do like your expression of "grounding" a mystery... it's true that we sometimes make our murders more clever and dramatic than real-life murders tend to be, so it's good to keep readers grounded somewhere else. Interesting observation. I also like to bring in when relevant the history of the place, I think that's part-and-parcel with the whole idea of location, as nothing exists in a void.

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    2. I’ve never been to Montreal, and that is so silly! It is a beautiful train ride from Boston, I hear… And my husband and I always talk about going.
      I’m madly in love with Toronto though one of my favorite places ever.

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    3. I'm heading to Montreal in October and look forward to reaching an opinion on the bagel debate!

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    4. Yes, Jeannette, the history absolutely. If you don't know about those layers you miss a lot of the spirit of a place IMHO. And I love visiting really old places - I was in York, UK when it was celebrating its 1900th (you read that right) anniversary and I've been to the caves in the Dordogne, too. And I have a historian heroine, so a lot of Brooklyn's not-so-old history is included in all my books. Such fun to research. Hank and Ingrid, Montreal is wonderful to visit, both foreign and familiar and up-to-date and old. Our favorite easy getaway.

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  6. Jeannette, you've spoken one of my truths--if I start a book and feel like the character could literally be anywhere--the story could be set anywhere--just another small-town, city, neighborhood, etc., then usually I toss the book--for me, story is rooted in place as well. Places that speak to me are hills and forests. Now I'm off to meet Sydney and spend a lazy summer day on the Cape.

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    1. Flora, I love to hear that! I do think that when readers "live" in a place—even just for the few hours they spend reading a book set there—then when they do visit, they're given this lovely sense of déjà vu. They know how one gets from Montréal's Plateau down to the Old City, because they've been with Martine when she walks there; they know that Herring Cove is off the west end of Provincetown, because Sydney's taken them there when she goes to "do sunset" in the winter. (I'm not just a writer, I'm a tour guide as well!)

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  7. Provincetown! Haven't physically visited in years, but will via your new release. I write Cape Cod stories set in a thinly disguised Chatham.

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    1. Interesting, Margaret! Why do you disguise Chatham, thinly or otherwise? I do wonder sometimes if someone is going to be offended in some way by the way I portray a place, but so far that hasn't happened....

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    2. check out Douglas Kiker's Murder on Clam Pond, set in a thinly disguised Chatham, where he was a local fixture sitting on "his" bench in front of St Christopher's on Main Street.

      Short answer: it's easier to create diabolical plots and not offend the residents

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    3. (laughing) You make a good point! I *did* invent the hotel where Sydney works, the Race Point Inn, due to the fact that I killed off its owner in the first book in the series and didn't think any local innkeepers would appreciate that!

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  8. Hi, Jeannette (waving!) - So happy to see you here with a new book. I love Ptown, too. Though driving to the Cape and home is not my idea of vacation. (Margaret, Chatham is one of my favorites, too.)

    I tend to write places I already know well (NYC, Los Angeles of decades ago, New England...), but occasionally I'll take a trip FOR a book. For YOU'LL NEVER KNOW DEAR I went to Beaufort, SC. Traveling for research is totally different from traveling for fun. I need to do it alone and it's WORK. But the results, the trove of detail you can't make up, is so worth it.

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    1. Hey, Hallie, so good to see you! No: the trip down from Boston is unpleasant in the summer months. I was in Boston last week for a medical appointment and it took me four hours to get back... definitely not fun! I've read many of your books and you do a grand job of capturing a real sense of the characters' world. I agree to some extent that research trips are different... but you know, my "regular" trips usually turn into research ones anyway because I so love delving into the history and life of anyplace I visit. (Yeah, in other words, I'm a geek. It's all research. And I love research. *Big* geek.)

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  9. Wow! This is so much fun to read… And, because it’s all about me :-) I will be speaking at the Provincetown book festival in September, and now I know exactly what to do and where to go! Love this so much!
    And I so agree, if a book could take place just anywhere, the reader loses so much. I am constantly seeing places in Boston that are in my books, and it is almost confusing… I think wait, that’s where Mercer had lunch! And then I say no, I made that up.

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    1. I have a friend who is one of the trolley guides in Provincetown, and there's an important scene in the first Sydney Riley mystery (Death of a Bear) that takes place at a well-known landmark along the trolley route. She's told me that every time she takes a tour there she almost points it out before remembering that, ah, no, that was a fictional scene! So I'm totally in synch with you on that.

      We are all definitely looking forward to seeing you for the book festival! Do stop by and say hello, I'll be selling the series on the lawn in front of the library!

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  10. Jeannette, I am excited to discover you as a new-to-me writer! Yes, place is essential! Readers want to be taken somewhere fascinating--whether it is a place that actually exists or not. In The Reluctant Fortune-Teller, I tried to create the kind of town I would love to live in and called it Gibbons Corner, NY: a lovely tourist town on Lake Ontario populated by funny, quirky people. I think of my own favorite books that evoke place: Rebecca by Du Maurier; so many that are set in an English village--EF Benson, DE Stevenson. And one of the BEST examples of how place can actually change the characters: The Enchanted April by von Arnim. That one is set in an Italian castle: San Salvatore, and it has a magical effect on the people who come to it. To me, that book is perfect!

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    1. Hi, Keziah (what a gorgeous name that is!)... An author who really taught me descriptions of place that draw readers in is Mary Stewart, another romantic-suspense novelist. Whether she's writing about Hadrian's Wall or Crete or Provence or Lebanon, she makes readers smell and taste and *feel* the venue, along with all the other stuff that we've talked about here. She is probably the best writing teacher I ever had, and I learned from her just by reading her books. Even her Merlin trilogy–less grounded in recognizable venues–makes her characters' contexts come completely alive.

      I like that you created a place you'd *like* to live in. I should try that some day, though frankly I'd probably end up in Provincetown again.

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    2. That would be a very interesting exercise, creating the place you'd like to live...

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  11. I've certainly wanted to visit a place after reading about it in a book. Deadwood, SD springs to mind. We met some friends there one fall which was pure luck. I had just started reading a series set there and was curious about it. I loved Deadwood. I could happily live there. I'm about to see a little of Charleston and the SC coast in October. A number of books have been set in this area and I'm excited to do some exploring. And Lucy's Key West is on my want-to-see list.

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    1. Isn't that exciting? I really think that tourism boards should do something to cross-promote local authors who lure visitors through their books... it's learning about a place from the inside-out, maybe the best way to do it. I love the concept of a list of places that's the equivalent of a TBR pile of books!

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  12. Jeanette, congrats on the book! I agree with you - the best stories would be completely different if they took place in a different setting. One of my reviews mentions my setting being another character and it made me so happy because it means I connected that reader to the place.

    For me, the Laurel Highlands is that place where it feels like "home." So green and peaceful, with the mountains - I'd love to retire there some day.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. It's funny how a place can become a spiritual home, isn't it? Laurel Highlands for you.... (it does sound beautiful!) I love love love my hometown of Angers, France, but oddly enough don't really want to retire there, though I may eventually situate a story there. I wonder what it is about a place that grabs us and says, insistently, "Me! Me!"?

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  13. Bonjour et bienvenue Jeannette. I just finished reading a most interesting FB thread on authors identifying characters by race, by sexual orientation, or by anything similar. And now you've set a book in PTown, which makes me wonder! I must go have a look at that.

    I've never been to the Cape although I moved to Western NY from California 18 years ago. It's always on the list and always gets pushed to the bottom in favor of somewhere else. I did go to Montreal last year, a month after a knee replacement. I expect I'd have enjoyed it more if it had been more accessible, but that's only a reason to return.

    As for liking stories set in places I've been or want to go, omg yes! Most of our trips are planned around just that. In a couple of weeks we are off to England, and one stop on our journey will be the barbershop on Penny Lane in Liverpool. Another will be the Oxford of Inspector Morse.

    And retire to France? It is my dream, if only Martin Walker's St. Denis could be found on any map.

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    1. Salut, Ann, et merci bien! If you're interested in reading more about Cape Cod, I also have a standalone novel called Our Lady of the Dunes, that takes place out in one of the dune shacks of Ptown and (I think) gives a good sense of that definite "alternate reality" out there in the wild. And you must indeed come visit!

      I love love love Oxford (I think on FB I've called it the "center of the universe," and while I honor all the great minds and great writers who came out of there (the Inklings! Lewis Carroll!), it is indeed Colin Dexter who really introduced me to the city. I knew precisely where I wanted to stay (Jericho), have tea (the Randolph) and of course visit (the Ashmolean museum and the Bodelian library). Would I have gone there (over and over again) without that introduction? Perhaps; but the experience wouldn't have been as rich.

      Do go back to Montréal (though not in the winter!) now that your knee's recovered... it's an awesome city!

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  14. I love experiencing a place through books, especially a town/city as varied as Ptown. I grew up on the "other" cape, and have written a series about that. After living in India I had to write about it, and I loved being there once again in a different way. Now I write about the Pioneer Valley. The way people live and interact in different settings has much to teach us, and I look for stories that draw on the features of a particular place. Yours sound perfect for me. I look forward to reading them.

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    1. Thank you, Susan! I hope you'll enjoy them, both the Montréal books and the Ptown ones. What I always find fascinating—and I think this applies to any place—is that there may be just one geographic location, but there are many different iterations of that same location, depending on who one is. I walk down Commercial Street in Ptown and I notice shops I frequent, people I know, even memories I have. But that same stretch of Commercial Street will be completely different for a tourist, or a drag queen, or an artist. I sometimes hear about parties and events that pertain only to one group of people and realize that I was nearby and had no idea it was going on... it didn't exist in the layers I experience of the town, just as my book signings don't exist in the layers someone else experiences of the town. I find those thoughts fascinating, and can go on like this for hours....

      As writers, we're lucky, aren't we? We get to experience these places more than once, many times in fact, and give them more thought than other visitors or residents perhaps do....

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  15. Congratulations on the book - it sounds wonderful. I have not been to P'town since in early 1970s. It was fall, and lovely. Not sure I could handle the traffic now, so I think I shall visit through your book.

    Setting is so important. My books are based in real places - Miami and the Florida Keys - I like to use a mix of existing and invented places, but alas, in Florida little lasts for long so the business I carefully protected from mayhem may be only a memory by publication.

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    1. That's a really interesting comment, Kait (and if you come to Ptown via ferry you can avoid the traffic altogether!)... I start this book by citing a common winter practice, that of "going to sunset" at Herring Cove. The book had already gone to the editor when my publisher pointed out that last winter's nor'easter had removed fully half of the parking lot I referenced.... oops! And I'm sure that two or three years from now, some of the places Sydney hangs out won't be there anymore (though I do strenuously hope that the thrift shop at the Methodist church goes on forever, as both Sydney and I shop there regularly!).

      It does raise some interesting questions about this whole business of pointing readers to specific restaurants or bars or theaters.... will the novel hold up when those places are no more? Perhaps just making them up from the start ensures more longevity? I don't know the answer.

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  16. I haven't lived in Philadelphia since I was 20 (although I have visited a couple of times), but I am thrilled when I read books set in the City of Brotherly Love--Lisa Scottoline's legal thrillers are examples. Lisa once mentioned TastyKakes in one of her books, and I was driven to email her about my favorite flavor (Butterscotch Krimpets).

    I've been a denizen of Silicon Valley for the rest of my life, which makes a terrific setting for novels--most recently, Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen and Family Trust (coming from Kathy Yang). I don't know exactly why, but it gives me a frisson of pure joy to read about restaurants I have frequented, even roads I have traveled.

    Provincetown sounds appealing as well. Best of luck with your new book!

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    1. Thanks, Margie. On the topic of restaurants—I think I cited Linda Barnes' inclusion of Mary Chung's, a hole-in-the-wall sort of place in Cambridge's Central Square, frequented mostly by MIT geeks (who know their Chinese food!) and Chinese-Americans or indeed Chinese people. Although it does a brisk business, everyone who goes there likes to think of it as their secret place (I only knew about it because my then-husband was a MIT grad). So not only did I read about it in Linda's book, but her character ordered one of my favorite dishes! As much as I enjoyed it, there was part of me that thought, oh, no, how COULD she?! a) now more people will know about Mary Chung's, and b) I'd hoped to be the one to mention it in a book, and if I do now, it will be derivative!

      Okay, as you can tell, I think too much.

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  17. I need to take Phyllis Whitney's tack and start setting books in highly-desirable vacation spots. Ptown and Key West are taken - is anyone doing mysteries set on Nantucket?

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    1. Yes, Francine Matthews. But maybe there is room for two?

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    2. Ha! It's brilliant, isn't it? (And even if someone is, there's no such thing as too much Nantucket!)

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  18. Welcome, Jeanette! I certainly agree that a sense of place is important. In fact, my writing in the beginning was inspired by wanted to write about places I'd been (or wanted to visit) in England--and it still is. I want readers to feel they know a place intimately, and I'm always thrilled when readers tell me they've used my books as guidebooks.

    Visiting Montreal has been on my to-wish list for a long time, and now I think I'll have to add Ptown, too! Best of luck with your new book!

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    1. Deborah, I can attest to your success in that regard. I never knew about the Chalk Farm area until I read your books, and you've made Notting Hill come alive for me in ways that no Hugh Grant movie ever could.

      Of *course* you should visit both Montréal and Ptown, though they're wildly different places. Some day I'm going to find a way to connect the two in a book, though for the moment I'm not seeing a way to get there!

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  19. I love traveling vicariously when I read. However I could never go to a place for the first time to set a book there. I need to have a previous feel for a place and to return when I'm writing, as the observer

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    1. Hey, Rhys, and I totally understand that. It's one of the reasons it took me a lot of years of living in Ptown before I set a book here. There are layers and layers to a place that the casual visitor just can't perceive.

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  20. Congratulations, Jeannette! I love your discussion on setting. It is so important. It's another character in the book for me. Now that I'm thinking of alternate settings, I think Hawaii might be nice. Although, with the volcanos and hurricanes happening, it might turn into more of a suspense novel. LOL! Thanks so much for visiting today!

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    1. You're so right! And one wants to be careful not to abuse the setting one chooses... not to take advantage, as it were, of disasters. I'm always keenly aware of the feelings of people in the venues I choose... I don't want anyone to feel that I'm using them in any way.

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  21. As I've always wanted to visit this part of the country, Cape Cod, I think Sydney's adventures would be a wonderful read to give me the impetus to visit. There's nothing like a great book about somewhere I want to go or somewhere I've been and love. My go-to answer for books written about a place I love is, of course, Lucy's Key West series. Lucy's words take me down familiar streets and into places I fell in love with when my daughter lived there. And, my answer for books taking me somewhere I want to visit is Debs' Gemma and Duncan series set in London. Oh, the ideas I've gotten for a future first trip to that amazing city.

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    1. Sydney says she hopes that she *will* inspire you to visit! The Cape is an amazing place of natural beauty and fascinating history—before the canal was dug, we were one of the major "graveyards of the Atlantic" for the thousands of shipwrecks along our coast. Here at the tip of the Cape, we have an interesting collection of eccentric people: because we're at land's end, we're not "on the way" anywhere else. No one is here by accident. And the kinds of people who settle in a place like this tend to be independent, strong, and more than a little strange! (And yes, I do include myself!)

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    2. Jeannette, do you lie there year round? Is it a difficult transition going from the non-tourist season to the tourist season?

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    3. I *do* live here year-round. I like to think of it as living in two different places whilst never needing to move! The transition *out* is usually easier than the transition *in*. For example, by April I'm really ready for more places to be open (restaurants and shops close for much of the winter) and more people to be around; by September (hello!) I'm really ready for all the extra cars to just go home and the noise level to come down.

      You mostly notice the transition, oddly enough, at Stop & Shop, our only grocery store. In the spring I know the visitors are back because I suddenly realize that I went grocery shopping and DIDN'T KNOW (at least by sight) everyone in the store! And fall is definitely in full swing when you can't get through the store in less than an hour because you keep catching up with people you meet there to find out how their season was.

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    4. OK, I have to find the Cape Cod books too. We just returned from a week there, in Brewster, not our first time there for a family vacation, either. Love it - we all do.I will never know it well enough to write about it, unless maybe from a vacationers point of view...so I will read yours instead. Looking forward to it, too!

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    5. Oh, i’m so glad you got to visit! Brewster is different from Ptown but everywhere here is beautiful. Hope you enjoy reading about the Cape now that you’ve experienced it.

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  22. When I used to travel, seeing historic places was exciting but so was seeing fictional places. In England we saw people playing cricket and having a fete ( I wondered if the fortune teller got murdered - because they always do). Bath and London were in so many historical romances. Locations often feature where TV shows and movies were filmed or set. They should do the same with books. Readers can be fans, too.

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  23. You’re right: the fortune teller often doesn’t have the best of luck! But it *would* be lively if the tourism board here told visitors about my books!

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  24. Ireland is that place that speaks to me. I'd love to visit again someday.

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    1. Ah! I'm going next March... may need to write about it!

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  25. ooo, PTown! I haven't been there since the mid-1980s, when my church youth group used to visit a camp in Truro for about a week. Such fun! And we were more or less set loose on the streets for a few hours--meeting up to go to the beach for a picnic supper at some time or other. While as pre-teens/young teens, we may have gaped at the "ladies" outside the revue bars at the time, our chaperone, Father Fred, considered this a teaching opportunity. It takes all people to make a world. And our job in it is not to judge anyone else. Or stare. Unless, they were waving feather boas at us and wearing bikinis that seemed to be made from a (small) handful of peacock feathers. Then, we were ORDERED not to stare. Love you old PTown. Now, when I'm on the Cape, I'm in Harwich, which is where my dad and stepmother live. I can certainly understand where it's difficult to live in a tourist town, but then there is the quiet season.

    Congrats on the new book--I'll look forward to reading it!

    Best,
    Melanie

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