We are so happy to have Susan O’Brien with us today. Thanks for joining us!
My first mystery, Finding Sky, was published this week, and I’m especially thrilled to celebrate with the Wicked Cozy Authors. That’s because although Finding Sky is set in the D.C. area, I plan to write in—and about—the most beautiful place I’ve ever been: the Damariscotta River in Maine. Side note: Maine is the first place I heard the word “wicked” used in a positive way. I was in elementary school, and since I’m a “word person,” it was unforgettable!
I’ve always wanted to be an author, and plenty of dreaming about it was done on childhood trips to my grandparents’ Maine property—a coastal paradise with its own beach, blueberry bushes, and soft, pine-needle walking paths. I adored gazing at the water, notebook and pen in hand, feeling inspired. It’s one of the few places I’ve ever written poetry.
Once, a writer visited while we were there, and he took my passion for the craft so seriously that I can still picture him on the beach, chewing “spruce gum”—which he cut from a nearby tree and shared—treating me as an equal. What a gift.
I hesitate to reveal too much, because someday, my protagonist Nicki Valentine will explore the same treasured location with her children. Seeing it through her eyes—with her sense of humor and romantic challenges—will be quite an adventure. (Although I did have a massive, totally unrequited crush on my hunky sailing instructor one summer. Hmmm. That could provide some inspiration!)
I can’t wait to escape to Maine with Nicki and her family—literally. I’ve spent countless hours looking at real estate online, envisioning what it would be like to plot on a dock, clear my mind in a kayak, and make a riverside deck my “home office.” (During the winter, I plan to live in Florida, which involves a whole other real estate plan and imaginary budget.)
In reality, I may have to rely on a research trip, Google, and the memories I’m lucky to have. And that’s plenty. The peace I felt in small-town Maine is enough to last a lifetime.
I’m curious, do you dream of writing in a special location? Which settings do you find most inspirational and why? Do you long to share a certain spot with your characters and readers? And as a reader, do you enjoy visiting new locales with protagonists? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Susan O’Brien has been passionate about reading and writing since childhood, when she started a neighborhood newspaper and escaped tween stress with mysteries. Since covering her first big story (the birth of gerbils next door), she has worked with USA TODAY, PI Magazine, The Parent Institute and others. Susan has an M.A. in forensic psychology and is a registered private investigator in Virginia. Among her diverse interests are photography, gardening, loud R&B music, healing prayer and reality TV. She lives with her husband and children in the D.C. suburbs and donates part of her earnings to missing children’s organizations.
Visit Susan on her website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.