Tag Archives: sense of place

Maine in My Mind

Thea today, with apologies again for being unable posting last week, and thinking how I’ve written a fair amount about how Maine has changed for me with the loss of family, neighbors and friends.

Curiously, I’ve only written one book set wholly in Maine, a Harlequin Blaze: Night Moves, even though we’ve been summering there for as long as we’ve been married, and John since he was a teenager.

In fact, one of the first things John asked me shortly after we met was, do you want to go to Maine with me?

I was a city girl, born in Brooklyn, living in Newark at the time. What did I know about Maine?

I came to Maine shortly after sunrise on a cool August morning where, on the Kittery Bridge, the temperature dropped another ten degrees as we crossed the state line. We’d driven all night and we had another two hours to go to get to the family camp on a lake in southwestern Maine. I had no idea what to expect. What I found was a cabin with a full living room and wood stove, a bedroom, a bunk room, bathroom, kitchen, electric and running water, and a screened porch that overlooked a lake.

All these years we’ve gone there, weeks and months at a time, with kids, family, friends, dogs, cats, alone. We’ve picnicked, antiqued, swam and canoed in the local lakes, gone to every local fair — imagine my youngest son, city-born and street-wise, chosen to compete in a pig scramble at one of those country fairs — and I’ve written good portions of several books up there at the little desk overlooking the lake that my husband rigged up for me on the porch.

I’ve loved it there in years past. What I especially loved was how time stretched. That everything had a pace and an hour, and that anything that needed to be done got done by four p.m., so we could sit on the porch and inhale the peace, the quiet, the calm, and just talk. Or not.

You might ask why we never moved there. I have no answer — we thought about it for years, we think about it still. I corresponded for many years with Mabel, our neighbor up the road before she died. She wrote wonderful stream-of-conscious letters about life in Maine during the winter. They kept Maine my mind and heart when I couldn’t be there.

I imagined living there. I thought about my characters living there, I dreamt up mysteries that haunted the woods behind our house, monsters that lived in the lake, secrets buried for generations in the attics and cellars of abandoned farms that dotted the hills, heroines returning to their roots, running from their bad decisions, heroes who were local, hard-bitten and wise.

And sweet sultry romance in a place where time moved slower, the air was clear, the water sparkled, where neighbors were always ready to help, and where, forty-seven years after the fact, people still know your name.

And maybe, after all these years, just maybe that’s enough.

What about you? Do you have a place out of mind where you love to go and might want to live? Have you ever acted on that desire?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romances. She’s the author of twenty-seven erotic historical and contemporary romances, and a dozen novellas. Her sequel to The Darkest Heart (June 2011), Beyond the Night, will be a Pocket Star release February 2014. She is a Romantic Times Romance Pioneer honoree.

Home is Where …?

Happy belated new year, Scribers. Thea Devine today. We had an interesting holiday ourselves. After spending Xmas with our grandson and his parents, we went to visit family in Arizona. Our first trip. A wonderful visit to a place my husband’s family members had wanted to live for years, had dreamt of living there for years.

Which led me to wonder about home, and what makes you feel that this is home: the desert, the painted sky, the dusky colors, the unlimited horizon — as opposed to the unlimited horizon of the ocean, the rocky shore, trees that touch the sky, winter that cradles you in snow and the warmth of the fire. A big Victorian, or a roomy ranch. In the woods back of beyond or in a cluster of houses in a development. A brownstone in the city or colonial in the suburbs. A cabin in the woods or a condo on the edge of a bay.

Do you live now where you grew up or thousands of miles away?
I was amazed, when I attended my fiftieth high school reunion, at where many of my classmates wound up. A fair of them stayed in New Jersey. But others lived as far away as Hawaii, California, Tennessee. What said home to them in those disparate places, I wonder.

Place is so important, especially I think to writers. We once bought a house that after a couple of months, I told my husband I wanted to go back to where we moved from. He did not ask for a divorce.

Of all the houses and places we’ve lived, I love living here in CT the best. I love the town, I love how much there is to do, how many opportunities to volunteer. I love our house which is a typical 1970′s ranch. It’s sited beautifully on a rise so when you look out the door, you feel like you’re living in the trees. The sun is at the back of the house, south. I never feel comfortable when it’s at the front of the house. We keep the front door open most times so it’s like another window to view the landscape. I love winter days when we light the fireplace, play music, low, and curl up with a book. I love watching birds hanging onto icicles pecking away at the feeder. I love warm days when my husband and I just sit on the deck and talk.

So when you create your heroine — where is her home? Is it where you live? Where you wished you lived? Someplace you have lived? An imaginary small town where everybody’s known you since the day you were born?

Is it where you’re comfortable or where your heroine has to find comfort? Does she resist or embrace her home? Do you? Have you lived places that just didn’t Feel Right?

What makes a house feel right to you, the sun pouring in from the south or sunrise to the east. The layout? The fireplace? The kitchen. The property? The look of the house? Being near water? Do you like the snow or the heat? The changing seasons or a constant landscape?

What says home to you? Do you wish you could live someplace else or do you love where you are? Have you put your heroine in places you’ve never been? Or do you keep her close to home? Do you think writers are super sensitive place — or is it just me?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic romance. She’s written 25 historical and contemporary erotic romances and a dozen novellas. Beyond the Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart, will be released September 2013 from Pocket Star. She’s currently at work on her next erotic romance. Her 2008 novel, His Little Black Book, was reissued in October.