I am so happy to welcome Debra St John today!!

Hi Debra (waving!!!), it is so great to have you here as a guest after all the wonderful support and comments you have left my other guests in the past!! Having read Wild Wedding Weekend and LOVING it, i can't wait to hear more of what Debra is up to!!

I don’t know about you, but when I read, I want an authentic story. One that feels real. One I can almost imagine being a part of. One I remember long after I’ve closed the book for the final time.

As a writer, I hope to provide those authentic stories to my readers. One way I found to do that is to use places I’ve actually been as the settings for my books. Having such a strong sensory, been there, done that reference helps me to recreate places for my characters and readers.

It’s always a fine line to use someplace real. If it’s a place people are familiar with, it’s vital to get those little details correct. So sometimes I don’t use a setting exactly as it is in the real world. I might “borrow” things from a particular locale, but put them in an entirely different place.

In my first book, “This Time for Always”, I based the bar in the book on the place my husband and I met. Having spent a great deal of time there, it was easy to picture the setting in my head and (hopefully) give authentic details to readers so they can experience it, too. This bar is located here in the Midwest where I live, but for the story I’ve taken the liberty of moving it out West to the mountains.

For my latest release, “Wild Wedding Weekend”, my characters Abby and Noah, needed to go on a honeymoon. So, you guessed it, I sent them on my own. Now, trust me when I say the details of their honeymoon are not based on mine, but the places they visit are! I have an entire scrapbook dedicated to the romantic places my hubby and I visited twelve years ago, and this provided great visual fodder and background information when I was writing this book. For this, I did try to get those little details correct, as there are lots of people around who have actually been to the Caribbean and will recognize some of the very well-known places in the story.

When it came time to write a third book, I turned to one of our favorite vacation spots for the setting. Each year my hubby and I head to the Missouri Ozarks with our dear friends for a long weekend getaway. The very first time we went, I came home with visions of a story set there dancing in my head. With “This Can’t Be Love”, my upcoming release, those ideas have come to fruition. In this particular story, Zach and Jessica get to do some of our favorite things there: ATVing, cooling off at the swimming hole, and for me, riding an oh-so-sexy John Deere tractor. As this story is a spin-off of “Always”, I once again took the liberty of moving my setting out West.

Lately I’ve been working on a fourth book, and to be honest, it’s coming along slowly. For this story, the setting comes completely from my imagination. It’s not exotic or foreign…most of it simply takes place in a historic row home. But I’ve only been in a historic row home once, and I don’t have any pictures of the inside. I guess I’m having trouble transferring what I’m seeing in my head to paper. Since it’s all made up, I don’t have the memory of the sights, smells, and textures to go by. I’ve printed out blueprints and pictures from on-line, but it’s not the same. I think I need to make friends with someone who lives in a row home and invite myself over…a lot!

Setting is so vital to a story. Sometimes it can act as a character in and of itself. Getting it right is extremely important. Hopefully, in my stories, I’ve gotten it right for not only my readers, but my characters as well.

So what about you? Where do you find inspiration for your settings?



This is so weird, Debra! We work in the exact same way...I always take places I know well and give them fictional names when I work them into my books...and we've both been married to our wonderful husbands for 12 years, LOL!!

Waiting for your comments, people!!


  1. Hi Rachel!

    Thanks so much for having me today. It's a great pleasure to be here.

    Glad you enjoyed WILD WEDDING WEEKEND!

    We do have a lot in common! How fun!!

  2. Debra, I do exactly the same thing. I traveled intensively and like to set my characters in the wonderful settings I enjoyed. I am greatful when readers tell me that my books offer armchair traveling in addition to a sizzling love story. I will look for your book, Wild Wedding Weekend. Great title and book cover.

  3. HI Mona,

    Thanks for visiting. I do love armchair traveling. (And, of course those sizzling love stories!)

  4. Traveling and then writing about the places with romantic characters is great. I like that idea. I agree with Mona, the title is humorous and sexy.
    See you at our next Chapter meeting,
    w/a Yasmine Phoenix

  5. My inspiration for setting sometimes comes from the History Channel! I love watching some of the locales for engineering an empire or other shows that focus on some of the ancient cities, especially if they're still standing.

    Thanks for sharing, Deb.

  6. Hi Pamala and Dorothy,

    Thanks for stopping by. I'll see you both soon!

    Oooh, the History Chanel is a great resource.

  7. Since I write mostly historical romance, even if I'm fortunate to visit the setting of any current project, it'll be different than when my characters would've been there - but, that said, there's a lot to be said for picking up the "feel" of a place - visually - by being there. If I can't visit a place first hand, books and online photographs help immensely. Because I'm with you, Deb, if it's not in my head, it's not going to show up on the page...

  8. Hi Maureen,

    Thanks for visiting. I love hearing from fellow "Visual" friends!