I’m a devoted fan of P.C. Zick’s novels and have invited her over to my blog several times. So for her new release, which I haven’t been able to read just yet, here is a post written by her about the setting. This is particularly interesting to me, because, like P.C.Zick, I’ve moved recently and have chosen the new environment as the setting for my next novel. Great minds think and work alike…
A MOUNTAIN SETTING – A CANVAS FOR THE STORY
By P.C. Zick
Setting plays the role of parent in the fiction I write. It creates, nurtures, and supports the plot, conflicts, characters, dialogue, and actions. It serves as the canvas on which I create a verbal painting.
From the beach to the mountains, from hurricanes to snowstorms, from southern drawls to Yankee nasal tones, setting defines what I write.
When I moved to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains this past year, I began a new series of romances. As I looked out at the mountains in the distance, with shifting fog, changing clouds, and growing trees, the setting for the new novels grabbed me, leaving me no choice but to nestle my lovers in a mountain setting.
Mountain Miracles is the third book in my Smoky Mountain Romance series. Murphy, a real town in the most southwestern part of North Carolina, serves as the setting for my invented characters. Some of the places are real, but I created fictional ones as well, and those stand at the forefront of all that happens in these stories. I made sure all are stand-alone novels, but the characters return with new ones added in each new book. The town becomes the fertile base from which the characters grow.
The first book, Minty’s Kiss, introduces the Johnson family who are the mainstay of all the stories. Fran Johnson, in her fifties, is the mother we’d all like to have. The Johnson’s farm, nestled in the valley and bordered by a babbling creek, offers an idyllic country setting with Johnson Mountain looming in the background. Fran and her home nurture all the characters.
In the town itself, Misty Mountain, a restaurant/bar, becomes the other main gathering place. When Fran’s son Nick and his childhood friend Molly end up rekindling their lost love in Minty’s Kiss, the whole town rejoices. The second book, Misty Mountain, features Molly’s best friend Lacy as she finds love with George and his son Jed.
That brought me to Mountain Miracles where I had to introduce some new blood into the mix, or I’d run the risk of mixing up too many families. So enter the shockingly handsome David who is so shy he hits his head on his desk when the tall willowy Cecelia enters the office of his not-yet-started newspaper. Cecelia immediately believes he thinks he’s better than everyone else is because of his looks. When he barely talks to her, she’s convinced that he’s a jerk. But she forces herself to ask him about advertising in his new paper for her new coffee shop next door.
I used the mountains surrounding Murphy for some of this book’s setting. David discovers something about his roots and his mother’s Cherokee upbringing as he attempts to return his family’s cabin to its rightful ownership. The tourist season and the landscape’s changing canvass provide a glimpse of the interconnectedness of nature to our lives. The breathtaking views from mountain vistas gave me some majestic places for romantic moments in the freshness of new love. And setting the book in a small town allowed me to express the idea of community and family to David and Cecelia. Neither of them had experienced that before moving to the mountains. They are supported by the kindness and love of the residents.
Of course, Fran is around to help the newcomers understand one another. It’s also a great opportunity for her to play matchmaker. The rest of the cast embraces both David and Cecelia, showing them the true meaning of community and family.
When I created the character of Fran in the first book, I never imagined that I would come to love her character as much as I do. As a result, I had to write her story. She’s the star of the fourth book A Merry Mountain Christmas which will be released in the box set Christmas Pets and Kisses 2 on October 11.
From the tops of the mountains down to the rushing river waters, setting helped me paint the embodiment of all that’s good. Who doesn’t need fresh air, dramatic landscapes, and unconditional love in today’s world?
About Mountain Miracles – When Sissy Jones moves to the Smoky Mountains, she’s determined to follow her dream of owning a business by opening a coffee shop, right next door to a new paper starting up at the same time. The handsome publisher, David Bellwood, and Sissy discover an irresistible attraction to one another, but first, they must deal with mothers who aren’t always as they seem.
After her mother has a stroke, Sissy must take care of her, and David must find out the truth behind his Cherokee mother’s disappearance when he was five. When Sissy tries to help David, he views her assistance as interference as he fights for his legacy.
As both of them seek the comfort of family they’ve never known, they struggle to forgive, allowing the attraction to turn into something more.
Release date: September 13, 2016
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER SIX, MOUNTAIN MIRACLES
SAYING GOOD-BYE TO BUCK BALD OVERLOOK made Sissy sad for some reason. Then as she made her way to David’s vehicle, she smiled. The kiss had not made her sad. It had warmed her, despite the surprise when he leaned over and found her lips. She responded immediately, and not just her lips. She felt a warm rush of blood flow throughout her whole body. It had been ages since a kiss had delivered that kind of sucker punch, even when a kiss had touched her that way, it had been much more intense than the simple touching of their lips without going any further. She sighed as she opened the door, hoping it would happen again, and soon.
When they reached the peak on the Skyway, David pulled over to a spot designed as a “scenic view.” They looked down on the river valley, and she took in the beauty of the five thousand plus elevation.
“How absolutely breath-taking,” she exclaimed when she walked to the railing. “You’ve shown me more in the past two hours than I’ve seen since I’ve moved to Murphy.” She turned to David who stood beside her, and she felt his arm go around her waist. Perfection.
“Now do you understand why I love this place so much?”
“I do.” She turned toward him liking their height difference, not too much, but enough that she tilted her head up slightly, and he bent his head to once again grab a kiss. Only the sound of a car drew them apart.
“I could get used to this,” David whispered into her ear. “Kissing you all the while in the midst of my favorite place in the world.”
“Ready to see the cabin?”
She nodded, and they headed back to his vehicle. They drove a few more miles before he turned left onto a graded gravel road with just enough room for two vehicles to pass, if neither were very wide. After a mile or so, he pulled into a driveway with a mailbox with “Bellwood” painted on its side. But when the driveway ended at a two-story log home that must have been the largest log home—forget cabin—she’d ever seen, she gasped.
“You call this a cabin?” she managed when he’d turned off the engine.
“It’s been added onto over the years by each generation, but I think it’s fine just the way it is now.”
“It rambles, in a good way.” David opened the door.
“Do you have a key?” she asked when she jumped out.
“I know where we used to keep one, but Janice probably removed it.”
They walked toward the house—she’d never be able to call it a cabin—and he picked up a pot that needed some plants in it.
“What do you know? She probably didn’t even know it was here.” He held up a key, smiling. “Want to take a tour?”
“Do you think we should? It’s not yours yet, is it?”
“No, but Janice wouldn’t be here. She doesn’t really like the place. She only wanted it because she knew it was something important to my dad.”
“That’s awful, isn’t it? I mean, to live like that.”
He shrugged, but she could tell he wasn’t really listening. Instead, he was concentrating on getting the door opened. But the key wouldn’t work.
“She changed the locks.” He held up the key with a frown. “Let’s go around front. I can at least show you the front porch and the view.”
They walked around to the house where a wide deck ran the length of it. Sissy looked out at the view and immediately understood why David felt as he did. The ‘smoke’ rose from the mountains and quickly moved away revealing the new green of spring on the mountain range before her.
“I keep thinking I’ve seen the most beautiful scenery imaginable today, and then you bring me here. Thank you, David.” Sissy turned to find David on the empty porch, looking lost.
“They’re gone.” His voice was flat.
“The hickory rocking chairs my grandfather made for my parents when I was born. They were always right here.”
“Maybe she put them inside since she wasn’t here.”
He peered inside the large front windows.
“I don’t see anything in there.” Again, flat-lined.
“David, are you all right?” Sissy thought he might start to cry he looked so forlorn. He must have loved those chairs. She tried to understand, but her parents didn’t have any heirlooms passed down through the generations. Then she remembered her grandmother’s jewelry armoire, and then she understood why he looked so bereft. If she didn’t have that, she’d feel as if she’d lost her grandmother forever.
“Those rocking chairs were important to you, weren’t they?” she asked.
“My mother …” He stopped, but she could tell he wanted to say more. He shook his head. “It’s the one memory I have of my mother—here at this cabin, me sitting on her lap in one of the rocking chairs. She’d rock me and sing songs. We’d laugh. She was so beautiful.”
“Maybe Janice put them somewhere for safe keeping—the garage, maybe?”
He nodded, and then he reached for the knob on the door and turned it. Surprisingly, the door opened.
“What do you think you’re doing?” The sharp voice caused Sissy to jump.
She turned to see a woman in her thirties, dressed in wide black pants and a white silk blouse, blonde hair flowing over her shoulders, standing at the end of the porch with her hands on her hips. David turned toward the woman and froze with his hand on the knob of the partially opened door. Sissy felt a chill come into the air.
P.C. Zick describes herself as a storyteller no matter what she writes. And she writes in a variety of genres, including romance, contemporary fiction, and nonfiction. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction
Many of her novels contain stories of Florida and its people and environment, which she credits as giving her a rich base for her storytelling. “Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife – both human and animal – supply my fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable. Her Behind the Love trilogy – contemporary romance – is also set in Florida. She began the Smoky Mountain Romances in 2015, and now there are four sweet romances in the series.
Amazon Central: http://www.amazon.com/P.C.-Zick/e/B0083DPN4E/