I’ve often been asked how I came up with the characters, setting, and town name for my Hope Springs Romance series. Thought I’d better tell you how.
I’d been kicking around the idea of writing a romance novel for the better part of the past 25 years, but couldn’t seem to come up with a concept I could relate to and put my heart and soul into. Then in January of 2016 a concept began to form in my brain. I knew I wanted to make it a series of books about a group of women who did something but I wasn’t sure what, exactly. The more I thought about it, the more I knew that this group would be of all different ages, and at different phases of life. I knew the matriarch of the group had to be someone who was strong and independent, but so very compationate and approachable to help the women of the group with the problems and struggles they would wrestle with in each book. I am fortunate to know someone like that in real life, and am so very grateful she let me portray her as Rosie.
When it came time to come up with just what these women would be doing as a group, I had to look no further than my own personal hobby. While I don’t hand quilt now, I do remember going to my grandma’s house (who just happens to be Myrtle in the series), where she would have a large quilting frame set up in her dining room. I didn’t spend a lot of time quilting with her, but I do remember a few stitches. (Of course, now I’m kicking myself for not having spent more time around her quilting frame.) My group of ladies make up the Advice Quilting Bee, and Rosie’s Quilting Emporium is where they meet.
As for the rest of the characters, they are straight out of my imagination. I spent a lot of hours using a software program called Snowflake Pro to create the women who make up the Advice Quilting Bee, as well as the men who are a part of their lives. This program helped me get organized in a way that I couldn’t have on my own, by allowing me to build all the characteristics, habits, features, etc of each person. Once I was able to put information about a character in this program, I could move on without fear of forgetting something.
The name of the town, Hope Springs, took a little while to create. I knew I wanted the town to be in Virginia, and I wanted it to be small. Once I came up with the concept of strong, independent women finding love in the town, I wanted the name to reflect a certain feeling. Then the old adage, hope springs eternal, came to mind. Some of the women come to town, having left an unpleasant situation behind, and are looking for something better in the small town. Thus the name, Hope Springs. I googled it to make sure there wasn’t already one in the state of Virginia, and luckily there wasn’t.
Once I had the characters and the town name, I had to come up with the town. This is the more ironic part of the story. I had a vision in my head of the town I wanted to create, but was struggling with how to describe it for the reader to visualize. In April of last year, my husband, son and I went to a small town in North Carolina for them to ride the spring ride for Cycle North Carolina. It’s a three-day bicycle ride that begins and ends each day in the same small town. They rode, and I shopped! I also continued working on my character concepts.
As we were pulling into this small town, I began looking around and realized that this was the town that was in my head! Edenton, North Carolina was the living, breathing version of Hope Springs, Virginia! I immediately began snapping pictures of everything so I wouldn’t forget even the smallest detail. And, while the overall layout of Edenton and Hope Springs are similar, not everything is the same. Edenton is on the water, and Hope Springs is in the foothills of the mountains in Virginia wine country. Hope Springs, believe it our not, is smaller than Edenton, with not as many shops and restaurants.
But one building is the same. On the cover of my first novel, One Sweet Development, is a beautiful old building. For me it is Rosie’s Quilting Emporium, but in reality it is the J. H. Leary building, built in 1894, and is home to the town’s newspaper, The Town Herald. But it was the perfect storefront for Rosie’s. I took the photo while we were there, hoping to somehow describe it for my readers.
As I was finishing up One Sweet Development, I needed a cover. It was then that I went back to the photos I’d taken and realized that the J. H. Leary storefront was perfect. Fortunately for me, the owner, Al Chesson, gave me permission to use my photo as the cover.
As for the titles. Well, the first one is about a baker and a real estate developer, thus “One Sweet Development”. As for the second, it is about a doctor and his nurse, and his need for patience with her, so “Patience For Love” seemed fitting. Stay tuned for the next installment!
Both books are now available on Amazon.com. Check out www.amazon.com/author/jenniferskinnell for all the details.