Manda Talks Location, Location, Location!

Our very own Manda Collins has her newest Wicked Widows novel out today!  Yippee!  The characters in Why Earls Fall in Love are so delicious, I’ve been counting the days until its release.   Manda and I sat down to discuss what makes her novels so special.  (Oh, and how to win a Manda Collins novel today! See below.)

:::Uncorking a bottle of champagne and passing out glasses for Manda and all our readers:::

Diana:  Your settings in this series are really wonderful.  I feel as if I’m swept away on a vacation every time I read one of your books.  How important do you think the places you write about are to your plots?

Manda:  It would be difficult to imagine one of Colin Dexter’s wonderful Inspector Morse mysteries set in anyplace other than Oxford England. The same could be said if one were tempted to move the action of one of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries to say, Texas. As with real estate, location in books matters! Especially when it comes to suspense. It can affect where the action takes place, what resources the characters will have at their disposal to solve the mystery, and even what sorts of danger could lurk for our hero and heroine.

Diana: ::: passing a tray of delicate, Regency-style cucumber sandwiches to Manda and our guests::: So, what made you pick the location for Why Earls Fall in Love? 

Bath Abbey at twilight. (Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Bath Abbey at twilight. (Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0)


Roman Baths, Bath, England. Photo by Elissa Rolle (own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons


Farleigh-Hungerford Castle, Somerset, England. “Photo by Ian Knox [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons”

Manda:  When I chose to set my latest Wicked Widows novel, Why Earls Fall in Love, in Bath, I did so for several reasons. First of all, as companion to an elderly lady, Georgina would’ve be very likely to find herself in the spa town. Bath was, after all, one of the most popular places in England for invalids and the elderly to gather so that they could partake of the medicinal waters, which had been used to such purpose for hundreds of years.

Diana:  ::: wrinkling nose::: I heard the waters contained odd minerals and were absolutely awful tasting and smelly.  Wasn’t Bath mostly a chic place for people to see and be seen? 

Manda:  Once a thriving social whirl, by the time Georgie and Lady Russell arrive in Bath it has lost some of the polish that once made it such a popular spot. With the Prince Regent’s removal, along with his entourage, to the seaside town of Brighton, the Bath that Georgie arrives in has become a place where the elderly and those unable to afford a London season can repair to mingle with polite society for less. (Recall that in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, it is to Bath that the spendthrift Sir Walter Elliot is convinced to go when he can no longer afford to remain in his country estate.)

Diana:  Oh yes!  I forgot about that.  So it’s a place for economical socialization? Hmmm so why did you put your Earl there? Such lovely photos by the way.  Makes me want to go this very minute.  

Manda:  Another reason I chose Bath was that unlike London, it would be easier for people of differing classes to mix without too much difficulty. Because Bath society at this time wasn’t nearly as strict as it was earlier in the century, it was possible for the shabby genteel and the middle classes to mix with the wealthy at the Pump Room or in the Assembly Rooms without much fuss. And because I wished for Georgie to be able to see her old friends from her Army days, I needed that to be the case.

Diana:  ::: Passing out chocolate covered cherries to get rid of the imaginary taste of Bath waters:::  A perfect way for them to meet!  Clever and sneaky of you.  But, I hope there is more for them to do than sit around and drink smelly water?

 Manda: ::: laughing::: Unlike other towns of its size during the era, Bath offered many of the same kinds of entertainments that might be found in larger cities, like London, such as the theatre, gentlemen’s clubs, lending libraries, and even tourist destinations like Bath Abbey and Farleigh Castle. When it came to choosing a destination for Georgie and Con’s romance, then, I simply had to choose Bath! I can’t tell you more about how these special locations within the city of Bath play into the story without revealing some very major spoilers, but know that now the book is finished and nearly published, I cannot imagine WHY EARLS FALL IN LOVE taking place in any other place.

Diana:  Well, you’ve convinced me!  I cannot wait to dive into this book!

Manda:  So, let’s talk locations. What are some of your favorite mysteries, romances, or romantic suspense stories, in which the setting really made a difference? Do you think the book would have been the same if the setting were suddenly swapped out with another locale? What is it about that city or town that makes it the perfect place for the book to take place? Inquiring minds want to know! Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Why Earl’s Fall in Love.

Diana:  And don’t forget to get Manda Collins latest Wicked Widow Novel, Why Earl’s Fall in Love, out today! Why-Earls-Fall-In-Love-by-Manda-Collins300x490-e1384454350437

About Diana Belchase

I am an author, who won the Golden Heart for my suspense novel "The Spy in the Mirror" and was a Golden Heart finalist, once again, for my second novel, "The Spy in the Harem." I am also a triple Daphne Du Maurier finalist for three other books. Please follow me at my website:, or friend/follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or on my YouTube Channel: See you there!

Posted on January 28, 2014, in Author Interview, Diana Belchase, Manda Collins and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Great interview, ladies! And congratulations Manda on your newest release. Whenever I think of locations that became characters, I can’t help but think of the old gothic novels. Places like Manderley (Daphne du Maurier), or the Greek Isles (Mary Stewart), or Cornwall (Victoria Holt).
    I love books where settings take on a life of their own. 🙂

    • Thanks, Sharon! Of course I agree with you:) Another place where location matters is the movies. Can you imagine The Third Man set in Paris? Or Gosford Park set in a London town house?

      • I think setting in a good book is really another character. Whether its Bond’s Casino Or Godot’s bench, they are vital to the experience and how characters navigate emotions and plot.

  2. I adore stories set in Bath. Maybe it is because I’ve been there. And yes the water is foul!

    Most suspense and mysteries really need to take place in the settings the auhors chose, or they are very different books. Cheryl Bolen’s Falling for Frederick could take place in the old homes of different noble families, but it still needs to take place in these homes to work.

    Congrats on your new release, Manda!

  3. Happy release day, Manda! I loved Bath and wished I could have spent more than a few hours there. A good excuse to go back, yes? 😉 I do think certain locations really make a book. A political thriller makes sense in DC, for example. I love the books where the setting comes to life and affects the story in every way. One of these days I’m going to set a book in Lucerne. I think I need to go back and spend more time there too…

  4. LOVE the interview, Diana (and our imaginary tea party!)

    Went to Bath some years back, paid an outrageous fee and drank an ounce of the water…then waited breathlessly like a corny Bewitched episode for ‘something’ to happen.
    🙂 Alas, I’m exactly the same.

    I agree with Sharon’s locations and books (drat, she named them first!) Also agree with Gwen that DC is always a great place for any action/suspense/thriller.

    And MUST add (and gush) about Amanda Stevens’ “The Graveyard Queen” series! These are romantic suspense-thrillers that take place in ancient graveyards in Charleston or Asher Falls, SC. Heroine restores old gravesites and the settings are lush, beautiful, reverent and creepy. (shiver!)
    That takes some superior writing skill!

    FINALLY: Congrats, Manda, on “Why Earls Fall in Love.” (YAY!!!)
    I finished it last night and am off to write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Best of luck on your sales- this was a TERRIFIC story!

  5. Thanks so much, Sarah! You’re such a doll;) I need to read the Amanda Stevens books! I’ve got the first one in the TBR from when we hosted her here…So many books, so little time…

  6. Setting doesn’t really matter to me

  7. I went to Bath in November, so it was all fresh in my mind, and I was delighted to return there in your book, Manda. It really is a beautiful city, second only to Cambridge…

    Because I live in Europe, I love reading stories set in different locations in the USA and trying to imagine the scenery and way of life.

  8. Oh cool, Bridget! I’ve been to Cambridge too. It’s gorgeous. Sigh. I need to take “research” trip one of these days! So pleased you enjoyed the book! For books set in the US you can’t go wrong with a Lena Diaz, a Carey Baldwin, or a Rachel Grant:)

  9. Happy release day, Manda! I’m in love with your gorgeous covers! And of course the stories are always awesome. Looking forward to reading your latest.

  10. Huge happy release day, Manda!! So excited to get my hands on this one!

    I love settings that make me feel like I’ve visited a new place – especially when the setting becomes another character in the book.

  11. Always a delightful moment in the life of an author. A most happy release day Manda. Your cover is gorgeous, the setting is pleasing and I’m sure the story that Georgie and Con share will amuse. It’s on my TBR list.

  12. I love reading regency stories that are not set in London.

  13. The description of the setting goes a long way to set a tone for a story – the lighting and the weather also. Cornwall often is depicted as stormy which is perfect for a suspenseful story.

  14. Happy release day, Manda! Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen book. There’s that swoon worthy letter Captain Wentworth pens to Anne–“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope..” But I digress 🙂 we’re talking settings, right? I like exotic settings like those in James Rollins Sigma Force series. I’m reading The Eye of God and one of the locales is the dried up seabed of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan. Picture a rusting ship on a toxic salt field. Now picture an underground lab hidden beneath the ship.

  15. Awesome post Diana and Manda! Happy release day Manda! Okay am veering off historical suspense for a minute but you guys remember the movie Deliverance? Now there’s a setting that defined the story.

Thrill us with your wit...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: