That's a question the hero of my January Intrigue poses to the heroine after she talks about fishing one too many times. At that point in the book, though Hannah Cooper is living under his roof and under his protection, Riley Patterson doesn't really know that much about her. But thanks to his lame-brained idea to let his brother-in-law believe that Hannah is his new girlfriend, in order to protect her real reason for living at Riley's ranch, he has to get to know Hannah pretty darned quick.
As it turns out, "the fishing thing" is not only how Hannah makes a living—as a crappie fishing guide—it's also part of who she is. She's the only daughter in a family that runs a fishing camp and marina, a place that becomes the focal point of my Cooper Justice series.
So I guess you could ask the same question of me: what's with the fishing thing? Why did I choose to make Cooper Cove Marina such a crucial part of my new series?
For one thing, I wanted to create a palpable sense of place for my characters that had meaning and heft, even when they weren't actually there. Hannah Cooper is far from home and in grave danger in Canyon Creek, Wyoming. But knowing she has a home back in Alabama, filled with people who love her, helps ground her and give her the strength to survive. In GONE WITH THE WIND, Scarlett's home, Tara, has a visceral pull on her. I believe that Cooper Cove Marina has that same pull for the Coopers of Chickasaw County.
I also wanted to create a place knew I would love spending time for the next seven or so books. I enjoy fishing and boating, and I love the mountains, so I created Gossamer Ridge, a fictional town nestled on the banks of Gossamer Lake in northeast Alabama, and populated it with a happy if sometimes rambunctious and headstrong set of seven siblings, six men and one women, who have the same love of the land and love of family that I have.
Finally, I wanted to create heroes and heroines with jobs that weren't necessarily typical "Intrigue" jobs. It's not that I don't have cops--I do--and cowboys--got one of those, too. A couple of the Coopers are former Marines, and the eldest Cooper brother is still in the Naval Reserve. But I wanted to take them a step beyond those roles, to give them and their families the ability to live off the land if they needed to. To track villains threatening their families with the expertise that comes from knowing the land like the back of your hand. And I guess I've always wanted to have at least one hero who's fished in a Bassmasters tournament. With the Coopers, I have two.
Writers are often told to write what they know. It's a rule that can limit you a lot, so I don't always subscribe to it. But I do think you should write what you love. And that's what I've done with the Cooper Justice series.
So how about you? Have you written what you loved? Or if you're a reader only, what do you love? Cowboys? Firemen? Medical Intrigue? Or is there a topic close to your heart that nobody seems to be writing about these days? Tell us what you love and why. I'll draw a name from the commenters to win a $10 Barnes and Noble gift certificate.
UPDATE: Thanks, everyone for the comments. And the winner of the Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate is....Jeanie! Congratulations, Jeanie. I'll contact you via email to firm up the details.