Thursday, April 12, 2012

Setting The Scene with Jackie Braun

The Pink Heart Society is happy to welcome back one of our all-time favorite Romance authors, Jackie Braun. She's here with us to share her thoughts about where to place your novel.

Late October on Lake Michiganphoto by mic stolz
I’ve set several of my books in my home state of Michigan, including my latest, The Pretend Proposal. I admit to being biased when it comes to the Great Lakes State.  Michigan may not be as exotic as a Caribbean island or have cosmopolitan cities such as New York, but it does have sand dunes, plenty of charming little cities and miles of gorgeous coastline.

The Point at the Platte River Mouth
By jimflix!
For those unfamiliar with Michigan, it is made up of two peninsulas and surrounded by three of the five Great Lakes. A 5-mile-long engineering marvel called the Mackinac Bridge connects the two peninsulas.  The Lower Peninsula is shaped like a mitten, which is why Michiganders often point to their hand when telling people where they live. (For the record, I live about a third of the way up the mitten on the thumb side.

Some people claim the Upper Peninsula looks like a rabbit. Personally, I think that’s a bit of a stretch, but to each his own.

The two peninsulas have very distinct personalities, as do the folks who live on them. The U.P. (folks there are called Yoopers) sports a rugged beauty. The beauty to be found in the L.P. is more refined. Each has its own allure. With the exception of brief stints in New York City and Niagara Falls, N.Y., I’ve lived my entire life in Michigan. I didn’t “discover” the U.P. until about 20 years ago, when my husband and I, avid golfers at the time, stayed at a resort on Drummond Island, off the eastern tip of the U.P. We’ve been regulars on Drummond ever since. The island was my inspiration for my Conlans of Trillium Island trilogy as well as fictional Heart Island featured in The Princess Next Door.

I set The Pretend Proposal in both Ann Arbor and Charlevoix, both in the Lower Peninsula. Charlevoix is in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula on the Lake Michigan side (west side) of the state, sandwiched between that Great Lake and Lake Charlevoix. It’s incredibly picturesque. This video doesn’t do it justice, but it may give you an idea of the town.

Philip Dattilo Photography
One of the reasons I chose Ann Arbor, besides the fact that it is a gorgeous city with lots of nightlife and culture, is that it is home to the highly regarded University of Michigan. Even though my heroine’s nonprofit organization, Literacy Liaisons, is fictional, I wanted to set the book in a place that is home to higher education, just to show that people who cannot read or read well enough to function fully in society, are everywhere.

I hope you enjoy The Pretend Proposal. I enjoyed writing it. I’ve got to say, Thomas’s wily grandmother, Nana Jo, was a lot of fun. I may have to revisit her in a future book.  

For more on Jackie Braun, check out her website,


  1. I don't have a particular comment on the post (good post!) but I do want to say I am so delighted to have found the blog! Yay! A new connection to people who love romance, as I do.

  2. Welcome, Cathy. So glad you stumbled across PHS. This definitely is the place for romance novel lovers. :-)