One of my greatest joys of writing is making an imaginary place come to life. Back in 2011 I was with The Wild Rose Press with my first published book, Tempting Adam. That book took place at a movie studio in Hollywood. I loved the setting, but I tried to stay real to the place. Then a new story came to me–Divorce, Interrupted. The easiest title I’ve ever come up with. It said it all. What if a marriage ended over an affair and tragic misunderstandings? What if the embers of love still burned between the couple? Todd and Lisa Miller were born. But they needed a home and town that didn’t exist.
So, I invented Lake Willowbee, a small fictional town in the Sierra Nevadas. I’d been to the Sierras enough to write a town there, but all the ones I knew just weren’t right for the story. I needed a small downtown AND a good-sized lake. I needed a dam high on a hill to flood the town. In the foothills the towns are too big and higher up the mountain, the towns are too small. So…Lake Willowbee.
Since that first story, I’ve set all of my contemporary romances in Lake Willowbee. From time to time, a character will make a small appearance in a new story. Not enough that you need to read all the books (but I would love if you did!), but enough for readers who have followed along to say ‘aha, I remember them.’
I’m still working on Retreat, Interrupted for the summer boxed set with the Authors of Main Street, but a character from Dare to Trust has already appeared. There could be more.
To me, Lake Willowbee is a real place inhabited by real people. It is cute, quaint, and the friendliest place you could visit. Don’t forget to stop on by.
Jill James, romance writer