By: Marie Force
Welcome to the party! Come on in, have a drink, hit the buffet table, and settle in for a good time! That's what I'll be saying tomorrow night at my book signing party at which I expect about 90 people. I've been very blessed to have a huge circle of supporters cheering me on from the sidelines. Love at First Flight is dedicated to them because they kept me going long enough to write and sell Line of Scrimmage, which in turn led to this one—a ten-year labor of love from idea to publication.
The book is set in Baltimore, one of my favorite cities. I lived just south of B'more, as the locals call it, for three years in the 1990s. I have vivid memories of pushing my now 14-year-old daughter around the Inner Harbor and Fells Point in a stroller. When the Southwest planes used to go over our house on their way to the BWI Airport, she'd say, "Welcome to Baltimore. Enjoy your stay." My son, who is almost 11, was born in Bethesda, MD, right before we moved to Jacksonville, FL, which also features prominently in L@FF. The third location you'll visit in the book is my hometown of Newport, RI. So in many ways, L@FF is a sentimental journey. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, I still work for the company that hired me when I lived in B'more so I get down there from my current home in RI quite often.
My friend and coworker, April Force Pardoe (no relation, if you can believe that) and her husband Rich, lived for years in a fabulous rowhouse in the city that I "borrowed" to use as Michael's house in the book. Michael tells Juliana that he lived across the street in an apartment and became friends with the guy who owned the place as he was renovating it. When the owner had to move suddenly for his job, he offered it to Michael "for a song" because he knew Michael would take good care of the place. That's exactly how April and her husband Rich came to own 8 South Chester Street in Baltimore. So I thought it would be fun to give you an inside look at the place where Michael and Juliana fall in love:
Here's the view of the living room from the front door. See that first wood door on the right side? That's the teeny tiny bathroom that Juliana marvels over when she first sees it. She mentions that she can't believe there's a phone in there, and Michael tells her the former owner put them in every bathroom. "You'll never miss a call in this house," he says. Picture Michael and Juliana sitting on that sofa, folding clothes and drinking wine the night he tells her about the brother he lost. Picture Juliana coming down those stairs (far left) to offer comfort after Michael's ugly confrontation with Paige.
Rowhouses are tall and deep. So the living room feeds into the dining room...
...which feeds into the kitchen. Note that the cabinets are suspended from the ceiling. Very cool!
Here's another view of the kitchen. I love those slate countertops. Can't you picture Juliana rocking out at the stove, stirring the sauce as Michael watches her from the doorway? Or when he brings her roses and champagne to celebrate after the trial finally goes to the jury?
Going upstairs from the living room, here is April and Rich's bedroom. This is on the second level and was Juliana's room in the book:
Also on the second floor was another bathroom and a second bedroom that Michael uses as an office and a home for his Bowflex machine.
Up one more flight of stairs to the room April and Rich used as a TV room, but this was Michael's room in the book. So picture his bed against the brick wall. The curtains cover the sliding door that leads to the lower deck and the roof deck.
Another view of Michael's room:
Michael's bathroom (more of that fabulous slate):
And finally, the view of the Inner Harbor from the roof deck where several important events occur in the book:
Thank you so much to Rich and April for "sharing" their former home with me, Michael, and Juliana. At one point, Michael talks about how proud he is of his home. After growing up in a three bedroom ranch house with three sisters, "I can breathe here," he says. Juliana, who has struggled for everything in her life, completely understands what he means. Because April and Rich moved into this house in the city after I left the area, I was only there a couple of times. But it made an impact on me. When I was thinking about what Michael's home might be like, I kept seeing April's place. It was too good to pass up!
For the writers out there, have you ever been somewhere, even briefly, that stays with you long after? Have you used any of those places in your books?
For the readers, how important is setting to your enjoyment of a story? Do you think it will help you to better picture Michael's house to have seen these photos?
Now, down to launch day business! I'll give away a copy of Love at First Flight and one of Line of Scrimmage to those who leave comments here and on my blog. The comment period will close on July 4 on both blogs so check back to see if you won. If you've already read Line of Scrimmage, just let me know. Have you heard about my Book Club Meeting on July 20 at 7 p.m. EDT on my blog? I will post some questions on the main page, and then we'll air it out in the comments. There'll be prizes, hot dancing boys, and lots of fun! WARNING: there will be spoilers so make sure you read the book before the meeting. Also, make sure to check the listing on the sidebar of my blog for other opportunities to win copies of my books.
Finally, I'll be running a contest on my website beginning today and going through July 7. Check in every day for a question from Love at First Flight. The questions will be posted at random times each day, so you'll have to check in often. Email the answers to me to be entered into the drawing for the Love at First Flight Grand Prize Gift Basket. You must answer all seven questions correctly to be included in the drawing.
Everyone set to party? Ready? Set? LAUNCH THAT BOOK!!! Go forth and READ!