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FOLLOW THE HEART: Setting the Scene

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When I write, the one thing I must do other than cast my characters is to find images of my settings—from the city to the sitting room, I need to have a concrete image to inspire me, even if it’s just a hand-drawn town map or house floor plan.

This is even more important for me with the historical settings, because I not only need to know what furniture, wall treatments, windows, rooms, and houses looked like back then, but I’m working in cities (and a country) I’ve never personally been to. So research and image collection are vital. And with internet image search so easy, this is a lot easier to do now than it was ten or fifteen years ago.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the key settings featured in Follow the Heart:

Oxford, England
I, personally, have always lived in a college town (Las Cruces, NM; Baton Rouge, LA; Nashville, TN)—and I much prefer smaller cities (as evidenced by my creation of Bonneterre), so Oxford has always held more interest to me than London. Even though the university is a HUGE part of Oxford proper, my stories take place on the literal outskirts of the town—in the country or the suburbs (yes, “suburbs” was a term in use in 1851). It’s hard to find images of Oxford that aren’t of the university buildings. (Click each thumbnail to see the larger image on Pinterest.)

Oxford Map Oxford Oxford 2 Oxford 3 Oxford 4 Oxford 5

Wakesdown Manor
This is the location of the primary action in the story—the home of Kate and Christopher’s uncle, Sir Anthony Buchanan. The template for Wakesdown Manor is Althorp Hall, the ancestral home of Princess Diana—the seat of the Spencer family since 1508.
The Wakesdown Conservatory, Orangery, Gardens, and Folly
Well . . . maybe saying the house is the location of the primary action of the story isn’t entirely true—because many important things happen in the conservatory, orangery, gardens, and park, with one very important scene happening in the folly.

Andrew's Cottage

Andrew’s Cottage

Gardeners' Bothy Gardener's Lodge Conservatory Orangery ext Orangery-interior Gardens 1 Gardens 2 Back Garden

The folly in the park at Wakesdown

The folly in the park at Wakesdown

The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in London
I’ve done a few posts with images from the GE which you can find here:

The Great Exhibition—The Crystal Palace

The Great Exhibition–Inside the Crystal Palace

Getting to the Great Exhibition

Wordless Wednesday: May 1, 1851

Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list of the settings in the book—but these are the most important. If you have any questions about the setting, please feel free to ask!

On May 1, I will be giving away FIVE signed copies of Follow the Heart.

Beginning Monday, April 15, 2013, and ending Tuesday, April 30, 2013, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts on the background and inspiration for the Great Exhibition series and Follow the Heart. Each comment you leave on every post between 4/15/13 and 4/30/13 will earn you a name in the “hat” for the drawing. (Posts will be closed to new comments after 24 hours, so be sure to check in daily—subscribe via email above, or check my Twitter or Facebook page, as each new post gets announced there, too—for the latest post to comment on.)

Comment early, comment often!

  1. Janella permalink
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 11:37 am

    Thanks for insight into how many hours are spent into researching historical detail. How fortunate authors have the internet that allows one quicker research than having to pour through books at the library.

    The images are very nice, the Spencer home is just breathtaking.


  2. Michelle permalink
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:28 pm

    The settings are gorgeous! I’ll have to come back and look at them as I read the book. Thanks for sharing!


  3. Dora permalink
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:54 pm

    Some of your pictures resembled places I visited last fall. I would have sworn, before I read the location of the Bowwood Hall garden that it was the privy garden at Hampton Court. The other garden pictures are just as wonderful. Besides wishing to stay away from the hustle and bustle of London, why did you choose Oxford? Was it to have more “room” to move? You are making me wish I could hop a flight and go back, tomorrow.


  4. Emma permalink
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 4:42 pm

    I love the cottage! I would choose a small town over a big city any day. Last year I moved to a college town, and I much prefer either of the small towns I grew up in. I like open spaces and the quiet life!


  5. Tuesday, April 23, 2013 11:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing with us about how you plan the setting of your books. I enjoyed looking at all the pictures. I agree with Michelle in that I will come back and look at the pictures again as I read, Follow the Heart.



  1. FOLLOW THE HEART: Winners of the signed-copy giveaway! |

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