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Small Town Talk with Marianne Rice

My Setting, My Muse

City roots, small town heart. That’s how I describe myself and my writing.

I grew up in southern California (yeah, I was, like, totally a Valley Girl) but have lived in Maine since my freshman year of college (a hundred years ago!!). I’ve been teaching high school English for twenty-six years (send wine!), and I’m a wife, a mother to three adult-ish children (21, 19, and 16 years old–send vodka!), and when I have a few minutes, I spend my time writing (send peanut M&Ms!).

I never made a conscious decision to write small-town romance, but these are the stories I love to read, and the ones that are closest to my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love cities. I love visiting my daughter at her college in Boston, my sister in San Diego, my brother in Los Angeles, and my other sister in New Jersey/NYC. Our sister trips are always in a city where we do fun “city stuff”. In fact, I have a trip coming up next month to New York, and my sisters and I are brainstorming our itinerary.

But when it comes to story building, it’s the small towns that grab my heart. The locally run bakeries, craft stores, wineries, and inns. The town festivals and holiday events. I’m blessed to live in southern Maine with the White Mountains of New Hampshire as my backyard view, lakes only minutes away, the Atlantic a quick twenty-minute drive, and mountains galore. The setting is often my muse, and then I build the characters, families, and communities.

My Band of Sisters series is set in Angel Springs, loosely based on the town of Kingfield, near Sugarloaf, a popular ski mountain in western Maine. The heroines (Army veterans and best friends) run a summer camp on a lake, and there may be a romantic tryst or two during hiking and skiing dates. There's lots of snuggling on cold winter nights, and heated moments swimming in the lake. I also love writing about strong friendships. Not everyone is blessed to have a supportive biological family, and I love creating new family dynamics. You’ll see that in the Band of Sisters.

Nick, the hero in the fourth book, One Unexpected Gift, and his family are the inspiration for my spin-off series, Acadia Falls, set near Bar Harbor, Maine (it’s a gorgeous area!). In this series, you feel the love (and tension!) between siblings and adoring parents. It’s a nice offset from the heroines in Band of Sisters who didn’t have a place to call home until they found each other and Angel Springs.

Being outside, whether it’s going for a walk, hiking a mountain, skiing, riding an ATV, toes in the sand at the beach, or floating in the pool, and sometimes hearing stories from my students, ignite my writerly mind and inspire my characters and my settings.

What is it about small town romances that draw you in?

I love connecting with readers! You can join my reader group, The Ricecakes, follow me on Bookbub, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or visit my website.

Happy reading!

~ Marianne xoxo


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