The Heart in My Settings

maria Maria's Blog

Once upon a time, travel was my answer to my problem. It was the adult version of running away from home…

First I would catch a flight to some foreign country. When I arrived at my destination, I’d haul out a travel guide to locate inexpensive hotels, hostels, or B & Bs. Twice I even stayed in people’s houses, with total strangers in Amsterdam!

In all honesty, I wouldn’t even consider doing that today. Because both the world and I have changed.

Funny thing is, while I know there were travel fiascos, after all these years only the fun memories linger.

Now I draw from those memories when I write the Lella York series. My goal is to make each tale unique and give the reader a glimpse into someplace they may be unfamiliar with.

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio

Murder Under The Italian Moon, book #1, was easy. An unsettling nighttime encounter with an astrologer on the Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy? Hey, it really happened. From there Lella travels home to Dana Point, Southern California, where I also lived. I had so much fun including local restaurants, streets, and stores—my old haunts. The writing came easily because the connection Lella feels to Dana Point I felt before her. Yes, even the love scenes. Only difference? Lella is a widow—I’m divorced.

Chioggia, Corso del Popolo is the main drag, in this pic it’s flooded, pretty much like it happens in Venice. You can find the description of this street on chapter seven of Death Under The Venice Moon.

Then came book 2,
Death Under the Venice Moon, set in my cherished homeland, a place I know like the back of my own hand—a place oh so close to my heart that my publisher, Gemma Halliday, encouraged me to draw my own map of that little corner of Northern Italy I still call home.


Camel Back Phoenix, AZ

That brings us to book 3,
Murder Under the Desert Moon, just released. This one takes place in Phoenix, Arizona, my present home. You’re probably thinking easy peasy. Since I live here, all I have to do is look around. Wait—not so fast. Streets I drive on a daily basis, buildings I pass, stores and malls where I shop, cafes and restaurants where I eat—my habits have become so routine, I’ve discovered I no longer really see those places. I’ll find myself writing about a building I’ve driven by twice a day for the past ten years yet I suddenly can’t remember if it’s two stories or three, if it’s still pink or maybe repainted beige. I describe a bank and a few days later, I may pass it only to discover it’s now a different banking institution altogether…Noooo.

View of Camel Back
Camel Back Phoenix, AZ

Eventually I made it through. Most of the action takes place in a fictional resort called Camelview Suites in the Central Phoenix-Paradise Valley area. Just to make the whole shebang more interesting, two weeks ago I sold my house and had to move in a hurry. Can you guess? I ended up moving to Camelback Road, just blocks from my fictional setting. That’s something I wouldn’t have guessed when I started this book. This only serves to prove something I’ve always believed:  Life is stranger than fiction and can change in a heartbeat.

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