Novel Settings

At the moment, I am plotting a book. If you’ve read my books, you know I don’t get excited about the typical setting for historical romance, the London ballroom. I love the lesser known places, the slightly wild and occasionally remote–Durham, Northumberland, the Lake District, Yorkshire, the northern coast of Maine. That’s where my heart lies.

The first book in my new series is set in the 1850s in Kendal, Cumbria, the southernmost gateway to what is now Lake District National Park.

Kendal Castle, which I visited in October. (HSG’s very own Nina Croft used to play in these ruins when she was a child.)

So when plotting the second book, it’s been fun to peruse maps and the web for an even wilder and more remote spot, isolated, in a crumbling castle within which is hidden treasure beyond price. These are my contenders:

The Isle of Skye (off the west coast of Scotland):

Isle of Skye. By John Allan [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

An as-yet-undetermined location near Hadrian’s Wall:

Hadrian’s Wall between Housesteads and Once Brewed (fabulous name!). By Michael Hanselmann (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 County Powys, Wales:

Looking through one of the remaining walls of Castell Dinas Brân towards the north east. Source: Wikipedia.

Lundy Island, off the coast of Devon:

Four Celtic inscribed stones from Beacon Hill cemetery, Lundy. By Grantus4504 [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons.

The Yorkshire Dales:

Swaledale. By Kreuzschnabel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0, GFDL or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons.

I might come up with something entirely different in the end–it’s often more fun (and okay, easier) to look for settings than to actually write the book. 🙂

Writers: how do you come up with your settings?

Readers: What kinds of settings do you like the most? Civilized cities, or natural places? Glittery ballrooms or spooky castles?

And which one do you think I should choose? I’ll give away an ecopy of one of my books–your choice–to a randomly selected commenter!


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About Marin McGinnis

A lawyer in real life, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing Victorian era romance and mystery. She's spent almost half her life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She's been married to the same great guy for over 20 years, and has one teen-aged son. They all live together in a drafty old house with their two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete. While her very first book will languish under the bed, the next book, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next two books, Secret Promise and Tempting Mr. Jordan, are also available from Wild Rose Press. Marin currently serves as President of the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America and is hard at work on the next book. You can find her here, at, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

17 Responses to Novel Settings

  1. Beth says:

    I say go with Isle of Skye!
    I love that.

  2. Nina Croft says:

    Kendal castle! Can’t wait to read your book set in Kendal!

  3. KatieO says:

    I love that last photo of the countryside – so beautiful! Imagine having a manor house with that view? Wow.

    Personally, I have to have been somewhere to be able to really write about it, to feel like i can walk through the landscapes and describe it for others. Although your photos certainly set me to daydreaming! Thanks for sharing!

    • I know–it’s incredible, isn’t it? I much prefer having visited a place before I write about it. Nothing else gives you the feel of a place. But at least with Google Earth we can virtually visit!

  4. Janice Hougland says:

    I like natural spaces as story backgrounds. I think it’s because I love to have an adventure through a story. Thanks for the interesting question that made me think.

  5. Nancy Burgess says:

    The Yorkshire Dales would be a nice setting.

  6. Your photos are spectacular. A beautiful place to use in a book. Good luck with your plotting and writing endeavors.

  7. Since I write contemporary, I write about places that are kind of like real places. I prefer mid-sized cities, with surrounding rural areas, and prefer them to be in the Midwest. It is what I know best since it is where I’m from. And I do not write about big cities (even though I’ve lived in one) and am not interested in night life or the bar scene. Mine are much more “girl next door” type situations.

  8. Thanks for commenting, everyone! It’s been so interesting to learn how you all come up with your settings, and to get your thoughts on where I should set the book. 🙂 Now, as promised, the giveaway. And the winner, selected randomly using RandomPicker, is…
    Nancy Burgess!
    Nancy, please email me at with your book selection and preferred e-format.
    And for those of you who are wondering, I decided to set the book on the Isle of Skye. Stay tuned!

  9. Lynn Crain says:

    I vote Scotland…imagine that…LOL!

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