As an author of urban fantasy, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance novels, it shouldn't come as a surprise that my imagination wanders down strange paths with only the least bit of prompting. Living near Charleston, South Carolina, a romantic city that embraces its colorful past, only adds fuel to that creative fire.
The Matchmaker series started as a lark, something more lighthearted and just plain fun after spending months writing in the dark, edgier world of my Shadows of Justice series.
It all began when a silly question popped into my head during one of those ads for an online dating service: "How would an elf, a werewolf, or any other mythical creature fill out that profile?" If a werewolf is looking for a convenient source of prey or to increase dwindling pack numbers, it might go one way… or another.
Keeping it light, I focused on the romance side of the equation and the idea of a Matchmaker blossomed. She'd have the power to smooth the way for arranged marriages among mythical creatures and, more importantly, the power to identify soulmates in a world overrun by humans.
Charleston is full of big history and legends, plenty of ghosts and gardens, and more than a few strange paths. In other words, it's the perfect setting for a romantic tale ripe with paranormal creatures.
Patriots as well as pirates rattled chains down in the Old Provost Dungeon. Ghosts are no rare sight at places like the Unitarian Churchyard, Southend Brewery, or the Battery Carriage House Inn. (Fair warning, they aren't all friendly types.) The restaurants, gardens, and architecture of Charleston are full of inspiration for me and letting the characters in this series venture through cobblestone streets and under sweeping live oaks on the way to their happily ever afters has been tremendously rewarding.
For example, the half-elf Lily readers meet in The Matchmaker’s Mark owns a flower shop in the famous shopping district of King Street. A few blocks down from her place is a Mexican restaurant (based on a real eatery my family loves) which is favored by Lily's brother as well as the new werewolf in town.
In the Unitarian Churchyard, Amy (the Matchmaker) discovered she could even assist ghosts with matters of the heart when she helped reunite a ghost so desperately in love that she died on the same day as her husband, though they were hundreds of miles apart at the time. The encounter is based on the White Lady, Charleston’s most frequently sighted spirit.
Places nearby, like the awe-inspiring Angel Oak tree, believed to be around 1500 years old or Hell Hole Swamp, are a vital, breathing part of the magic of the series. And I feel their as essential to the stories as they're integral to the history and lure of Charleston proper.
As Grant said in The Matchmaker's Curse, 'there's a vibe' in Charleston. While he wasn't happy about it when he made the observation, it's true enough. The city has a vibe, an easy pace that soothes the soul, sparks the imagination, and satisfies even the most reluctant romantics - paranormal or otherwise.
Live the adventure!