My first guest post in the series of Authors writing about Texas, is ironically, not from Texas at all, but she writes about it. I was especially excited to see what Margaret Madigan would write, hoping to learn why she sets so many of her books in this fabulous state. Turns out, the perception of bigger than life is pretty spot on...
When Anne put out a call for authors to share their literary experiences with Texas, I was happy to volunteer to contribute. I don't live in Texas, and the few times I've been to Texas were to participate in writer's conferences where I had no time for sightseeing, so the sum total of those trips were airport-shuttle-hotel-shuttle-airport.
But I understand Texas is a pretty cool place. Hopefully someday I'll get to experience it for myself!
In the meantime, I've written several books set in Texas. Why, you ask? Well, the first book was the MMA romance, Making it Right, that I co-wrote with Merissa McCain. We set it in Texas (Houston) mostly because she was living in Texas at the time and it seemed like an appropriate place to set a story about bigger-than-life alphas who step into the octagon and beat the crap out of each other. Plus, I had a built-in research source because Merissa lived right there.
So, when it came time to start my series about the Caine Brothers (six alpha brothers who think they know everything about women, until they each meet their match), I thought...why not set it in Texas? The brothers are all native to Texas and are either still based there, or their stories take place there.
In HUNTER, book one, he's a billionaire who's taken over the family real estate empire (which is based in Houston), but the bulk of the story takes place in Costa Rica.
In XANDER, book two, he's a biker and his club is based in Houston. The entire story (which is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet) is set in Houston and Galveston.
In DAMIAN, book three, he's a SEAL based out of Virginia but he has a home in Houston and his heroine's family is in Houston. The bulk of the book takes place in Colombia, though.
In JAXON, book four (which will release on Sept. 19), he's a rock star who is based in Houston but travels with his band. The entire story takes place at a fictional estate outside of Houston.
I've also started a series of historical romances called the Nevada Bounty series (Gambling on the Outlaw and Depending on the Doctor have published already). These books are set in Nevada in the 1870s, but in book three, the hero is of Mexican descent and is from Texas. Unfortunately, historical western romance is not a big seller these days, so I've put this series aside for a while until it seems like its feasible to pick it up again.
That's a lot of writing about Houston and Texas, which is a place I've never been. Setting a book or books in a place you've never visited presents certain challenges. I want to be as authentic as possible to the location, but I don't necessarily want to use exact street names and whatnot. I want the flavor without every single nitty-gritty detail because A) research is a vortex of time suck and; B) all that detail isn't really necessary. A little goes a long way.
Lucky for me, I have a bunch of Texas friends. When I need to know about Texas beer, or hotels on Galveston Island, or food (I have a lot of food questions), or weather (what's the temperature in Texas in January?), or what part of the city would ???? be located in, I can turn to Wren, Anne, Deena, Charlotte, Merissa (who doesn't live there anymore, but is still a source) and many of the Badass Book Bitches. They flesh out Texas for me so I can see it in my head and write it in a way that's moderately competent (I hope).
All of that is to say, I have no idea why I set all these stories in Texas. Sometimes characters just tell you where they're from. Maybe that's why. But Texas is a big and varied place, and has a reputation as bigger than life, which is what I was shooting for with the Caine Brothers, specifically.
And yes, I have set books in other locations (Portland, Minneapolis, Southern California New Orleans, outer space) . Not everything I write is set in Texas, but even so, it's a great place with lots of stories to tell!
If you're interested in stalking me (in a nice way), these are the places you can find me: