Today, we’re talking setting with one of our own, fellow Quid member Candice Sue Patterson. Candice writes Inspirational contemporary romance with Pelican Book Group. Her debut novel How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart is now available in paperback and eBook format at major online book retailers.
QPQ: Candice, tell us a little about your story.
CSP: Thank you, ladies, for hosting me! How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart is about a beekeeper–Huck–who inherits a building occupied by the owner of a bridal boutique. He has his reasons for being against weddings, and since the boutique is struggling to survive anyway, he decides to evict the owner and open a sporting goods store. However, his eviction notice brings a surprise for him when he discovers the boutique owner is Arianne, a woman he’s indebted to for a mistake he made years ago. Old attractions flare, life brings unforeseen circumstances, and Huck and Arianne find themselves needing each other in ways they never expected.
There’s humor, drama, lots of romantic tension, and some nostalgia sprinkled in as well.
QPQ: Sounds like both characters get more than they bargained for! This novel is set in Maine, near Acadia National Park. Why did you choose that setting?
CSP: After visiting Downeast, Maine in 2011, I knew I had to write a book about it. The landscape is breathtaking, the food is die for, and the pebble beaches are like no other. As cheesy as it sounds, I left a piece of my heart behind.
How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart is set in the fictional towns of Pine Bay and Summerville, Maine. On a map, Pine Bay—the town where Arianne’s bridal boutique is located—would sit in the Ellsworth area. Summerville—where Huck’s home and honey farm are located—is Somesville, Acadia National Park territory.
Maine is home to some of the world’s best produce such as blueberries, cranberries, apples (and many more). These crops need bees for pollination to produce a good yield. That alone made this area a great setting, but it’s also fun contrasted with Huck’s southern personality.
QPQ: Reading this book, I felt like I was really in Maine. I could almost feel the sea spray! Tell us why a good setting is important in a book and how you achieve that.
CSP: Without a setting, a book is nothing but a story playing out on a blank canvas. I don’t live in black and white. I live in color. Therefore, I want the stories I read to paint a vivid palette in my mind. I expect no less from my readers. A good setting grounds the reader into the story, whisks them away for a while, and, if done right, can become like a character itself.
I’m a very detail-oriented person (sometimes to a fault), and it shows in my writing. If I want to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, make them feel like they’re really there, I can’t just say, “The ocean waves roared onto shore.” Yes, the reader gets the picture, but the vagueness only draws an outline. But if I write, “Foamy waves crashed against the jagged boulders, churning the greenish water. The color reminded Arianne of the jade Depression glass her grandma used to display on shelves in the summer kitchen.”
See the difference? Foamy waves gives the water texture, jagged boulders gives the scene dimension, and greenish water gives us color. But it doesn’t stop there. The color of jade Depression glass tells the reader exactly what shade of green and gives the moment depth as it shows a glimmer of the character’s past. All things combined, it creates sound in the reader’s mind as well, since our brains know the bubbly sound foam makes and the surge of water against rocks.
I achieve these details either by looking at pictures—tourism guides work great!—recalling a personal memory, or even listening to soundtracks that bring the desired effect. I sometimes even burn candles with scents that will set a desired mood.
QPQ: That’s a lot of action to create a couple of sentences! But it works. Your settings transport me. What else you can tell us about a good setting?
CSP: If you’re a writer, take your time perfecting your setting. Most of us read to escape our lives for a little while, so don’t cheat your reader. Make them feel like they’ve really traveled there, because it may be a place they’ll never get to see in person. Like well-crafted characters who make us miss the story long after the book has been read, a well-crafted setting can do the same.
QPQ: Thanks for talking setting with us today, Candice! How can readers connect with you?
CSP: Readers can always contact me through my website www.candicesuepatterson.com, and find me at the following links:
My novel can also be found at the following retailers. Thanks again for having me today!