Stephen King has said more than once, in advice to aspiring authors, “Write what you know.” I don’t recall if that is the exact phrase he’s used, but that’s one of the distilled nuggets I’ve been left with after reading his memoir/ advice book On Writing (as well as various articles he’s written on the topic). I’ve been a lifelong writer, but I didn’t read On Writing until sometime around 2004 if I had to guess a precise date, and that book did two things. The first thing it did was help me affirm that my writing process was not weird; but the second thing it did was give me permission to do things I’d pulled back from before (for instance, encouraging me to be “honest” in my writing—if the character in my head says the F word, then he should on paper—no censoring!). Until that point, I’d never used real locations in my writing, and I’d also been quite generic in describing what characters ate and where they went in their real life (my characters would drink a diet soda instead of Diet Coke, for example). Reading On Writing helped liberate so much of my composition process and my words have thrived because of it.
But back to the point. I now had “permission” to write about real places, but that doesn’t mean I used real places from that point forward. I also have a few fictional places set in Colorado, the main locations of a good many of my books, and that’s also because I need flexibility. There are certain things I need my settings to be, and no one city or town could encompass all my stories required. Besides, the fictional town of Winchester, Colorado, is turning out to be quite corrupt—and I’m sure no real town in Colorado would want me tarnishing its image!
I have used real Colorado towns and cities when either that location works for the story or when it’s minor to the plot. A lot of times, I’m not using them as the setting but rather referencing them in another way. Do you want to know more about the towns and cities I talk about in my books? Considering I have readers from all over the United States—and even the world—I thought some of you might be interested in knowing more…so here you go!
I might as well mention Pueblo first. I was born there and lived the first fourteen years of my life in that city. According to Wikipedia, it’s
the ninth largest city in the state. There’s a university there (Colorado State University-Pueblo) and a community college, as well as a steel mill (responsible for the city’s early growth in the early 1900s). Most people not from Colorado might know Pueblo as the address for the “government printing office.”
Pueblo is the main setting for Be Careful What You Wish For, but it’s also mentioned in lots of other books. Casey, in Then Kiss Me, was born and raised there, and Fully Automatic toured there in Bullet.
I mention Colorado Springs in a lot of my books. While Nicki Sosebee doesn’t live in Colorado Springs, for instance, she visits there a lot and lots happens there in that series, mainly because the fictional town of Winchester is about an hour away from Colorado Springs. But I actually have a few books that have Colorado Springs
as the main location—Finger Bang and its sequel Heat are both set there, and one of the settings in the Vagabonds trilogy is also the Springs.
It’s a natural for me, because I love that city. It’s nestled right up against the Rockies but the view to the east is wide open. What I love the most about Colorado Springs is that, almost everywhere you go, you see a little bit of nature. Most of I-25, for instance, until you get to the northern part of the city, follows right along Fountain Creek, and there’s lots of vegetation. But it’s the views of the mountains (particularly Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain) that take my breath away. Colorado Springs is the perfect city, and it’s mentioned in more of my books that I can count!
Of course, Denver’s mentioned numerous times in just as many of my books. It makes sense, considering it’s the state capital as well as the largest city in the state. Half of the book Bullet is set there, and Casey in Then Kiss Me has just moved from there to Winchester in the beginning of the book. I know I’ve probably referred to it in more books than I can remember, especially since Sean of the Nicki Sosebee books is a Denver Broncos fan. 🙂
Denver’s huge and there’s lots more information about it than any other city in my state (I’m assuming, at any rate), so you don’t need me waxing poetic about it.
This town’s history is interesting. I believe it’s considered a suburb of Pueblo, but it was developed as a planned community in the late 60s/early 70s. It’s really boomed over the last couple of decades, enough that I believe it can probably also be considered a city.
What’s unique about it is that it sits along Lake Pueblo, a major draw for both tourists and natives alike. It’s a secondary setting in Be Careful What You Wish For, but it is going to be the main setting in Scorched (Feverish #2).
Even if you’re not from Colorado, chances are you’ve heard of Boulder. I think the CU Buffs are the only college football anyone’s heard of from our fair state. But Boulder was also once known as kind of a hippie capital. It’s still pretty progressive and earth friendly, and that’s what I like about it. Like much of Colorado, it’s nestled against the Rockies, so the mountains provide a lovely backdrop to a beautifully green city.
Boulder is a big part of Finger Bang, but it’s also mentioned in Savage and Feverish (Emily earned her MBA from CU).
Believe it or not, I’ve mentioned lots more towns and cities in Colorado in my books, but I’ll tell you more about them next week! (Yes, I took all these photos with my trusty phone!)
This inquiring writer wants to know: Do you prefer reading about real places or fictional ones?