Writers choose locations for their books for many reasons. Sometimes it's about a 'wish i could live there' place, but sometimes it's where the person has lived or spent a lot of time. Arizona for my books comes out of the latter. I was first there in 1965 when my husband was accepted into the grad school in Tucson.
With our cat, driving south from Oregon with friends, who also were attending UofA, we first saw the Grand Canyon-- a very dramatic beginning. That year, we explored mostly Southern and Central Arizona with a lot of time in the back country. Although we moved back to Oregon to have our first child born, the love of Arizona never went away.
As soon as our two children were old enough, we bought a small travel trailer and headed back as often as we could. The kids grew up, found their own special places, but we continued our ventures to the desert covering most of the state eventually.
Twenty years ago, we bought a second home in Tucson, a small development with desert all around. Today, with our son taking over some of the operation of the sheep and cattle ranch in Oregon, we debate whether it'll be our full-time home. We are in a time of transition and pulled between Oregon (where I have also based books) and Arizona. Old age though often requires making choices, and we may soon have to make one.
My strong love for the desert country has led me to place thirteen of my books (a fourteenth is on the way) in Arizona. I have tried, in these books, to tell readers what makes the state so special. Tucson itself is a product of prehistoric peoples and then Native Americans along with those up from Mexico as well as those with ancestors from Europe, Asia, and Africa. With that diversity, it has many religions with Native American beliefs often merged together into something new-- or New Age. With the sky so important here, it's not surprising that mysticism is also strongly felt.
To me, Tucson is a land of love, of spirit but also danger. I try to put that into my books whether historical, contemporary, or paranormal. Where I have a love of this region, it's not hard to give that to the characters. To me, they are born out of the region whether their actual birthplaces were elsewhere. It's Arizona, with all its diversity, that has made them into who they are-- strong enough to fight against the wrongs they come across.
It's not only about Arizona for me but history and the writing of historicals. What makes them so popular? I think it's the wonder of times gone by. We like to look back at worlds that are now no longer with us and yet their stories still are. A writer does a lot of research to write such books, which makes us go back to that world both through the research but also in the writing. For a while, when I write an historical, I am there, wondering over the lighting of the home, which changed with the ages, studying the possible foods, means of transportation. Much fun for someone who likes history.
The first historical I based in Arizona was written in the 1990s. I never submitted it to any publishing houses as it was a love of my heart with the heroine a woman fighting against cultural rules that blocked her from living who she fully was. When she had a chance to break free, she took it and found adventure, love, but also danger because the love came with a price-- loving a dangerous man. The story has had several different titles but today, it's got the best and most fitting-- Outlaw Way.
I began Abigail and Sam's story in 1883 to keep it away from the time the Earps were in Tombstone, where important action takes place. The different opinions on the Earps meant it was better to let the book begin after they were gone. The Earps are like George Custer-- no agreement on exactly who they were, what happened or why.
To be honest, I never thought there'd be a second book but years later, two of the characters seemed they had their own romance, Abigail's best Tucson friend and Tucson's marshal. Hence, I wrote Tucson Moon with a family mystery as part of it, natural events, and political complications of 1886 Tucson.
Both of the books were set entirely in Southern Arizona with the characters moving to various areas down there-- all places where I have also walked. They were to be all-- until it turned out that a daughter grew up to find her own love story. That one again took a lot of research for what was happening in 1899. Forbidden Love took place just after the Spanish American War had ended and traveled from Tucson to the canyon country to the north.
For these Arizona romances, which I call Hunters Moon Romances, there were so many options as Arizona is full of interesting history with the various cultural elements but also its beautiful and sometimes dangerous landscape.
The problem I've had all along is getting the right covers to give a clue to what the books ae about. With a new launch, using the heroines, I think we (my husband is my editor and publisher) might've finally found the answer.
Below is a banner to show all eight and how they form a circle, part of the cycle of life. Each book stands alone but shares characters often with earlier ones. They are all about the personal interactions, the passions plus the history and beauty of Arizona.
For now, these books are still available wide (B&N etc.).
The links below are for just Amazon: