Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Talk Time with Kimberly Van Meter

This Thursday at The Pink Heart Society, Harlequin Super Romance author Kimberly Van Meter talks to us about her experience with Building Fictitious Worlds...

When I envisioned Emmett’s Mill, the fictitious town my Harlequin Superromance series is set, I knew I wanted it to be in the California Sierra Nevadas but I didn’t want it to be an actual town so I made Emmett’s Mill an amalgam of towns up and down the Highway 49 corridor and selected bits and pieces of each that felt appropriate for my made-up town. And then I made master lists for each book, detailing where something was located, and what it looked like and made sure to write down any character names that were associated with that location or building so that in case I visited that place again I’d know its previous history.

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and that’s so true. Readers will catch those seemingly innocent slips in continuity so it’s best to keep on your toes from the beginning.

When I started the Simmons Sisters trilogy, I didn’t foresee more books set in Emmett’s Mill but my editor and agent both liked the idea of more stories set in this town, much like Brenda Novak’s ongoing series for Superromance set in Dundee, Idaho. Readers seem to enjoy series, that sense of connectedness to characters they’ve read about in other stories, and returning to a place they’ve grown to love feels like visiting a favorite spot from their travels.

The biggest pitfall of remaining in one place for a series of books is writing yourself into a corner, location-wise. In my September book, I had to figure out where to put the actual historic mill that the town is named for and I realized it couldn’t be in the actual town square because typically mills were located near a water source. So, I had to put the mill outside of the town limits and devised a plot point where the townspeople work together to relocate the mill to the museum, which is conveniently located inside of town.

Seems simple enough but I had to really think this through because I needed to be sure that wouldn’t cause a problem for any future stories.As I’ve written more stories set in Emmett’s Mill, it’s become a place I know well, as if it were a place I could find on a map and even drive to visit. I hope that’s the feeling my readers get, too.

Do you have a favorite fictitious town that you enjoy revisiting? What aspects of a continuing series do you enjoy the most and why? Let’s get this discussion started!
Thanks Kimberly!
To discover more about Kimberly and her books you can visit her Website or find out what she's up to at her Blog...


  1. Kim, your series is great! Love the small town quaintness of Emmett's Mill. Great job on creating a setting that anyone can relate to.


  2. Thanks Kay! I like it, too. My agent says it's the kind of place we all want to live! I feel rather lucky in that my childhood home was sort of like Emmett's Mill. It was the last county in California without a stoplight. Pretty cool!


  3. Kim-
    Sorry I'm late! I know technically this was a Thursday talk, but since I'm here, I'm going to give it a whirl!

    I've created my own fictional town and boy, is it harder than I thought! So, I'm wondering about your process. How did you come up with the name? And how about how big or small you wanted it to be? Do you find it better to use some "real" landmarks or just make 'em all up? And how do you keep track? Spreadsheets, graphs, drawings?

    I'm at the beginning of my second book in this series and I'm finding myself having to page through the other manuscript in order to remember details. This is not working well!

    Anyway, loved Return to Emmett's Mill and can't wait to read about Nora's adventures.