By: Meredith Allard (Author of Her Dear & Loving Husband)
After seeing visions of a vampire mourning his long-dead wife, I finally decided one morning to see if there was anything to these insistent daydreams. I sat down at the computer without any specifics about the story in mind. All I had was a thought about a vampire so in love with his wife that he couldn’t move on.
I decided to set the story in Salem, Massachusetts by a process of elimination. As I was thinking about the setting, I realized I didn’t want to set the story in the Northwestern U.S. because that’s where Stephenie Meyer’s vampires hang out. I didn’t want to set the story down South because that’s where Charlaine Harris’ vampires roam. I live in the western part of the U.S., previously in L.A. and currently in Las Vegas, but those didn’t feel right for a vampire story. Then I thought that if I wasn’t going northwest, how about northeast? I looked at a map of the northeastern U.S., saw Massachusetts, saw Salem, and that was that.
I have been asked if I was born in Salem or if I ever lived in Salem. The answer is no to both questions. I was able to describe Salem, Massachusetts in detail in Her Dear & Loving Husband using the Internet—website, photographs, maps, travel sites, and Google Earth. Then, as I sat down to write the second book in the series, Her Loving Husband’s Curse, I went back onto the Internet to reacquaint myself with the town that is itself a character in the story. Looking again at pictures and maps, I realized I had gone as far as I could describing the town from 3000 miles away. I decided I wanted a better look at the place where I had lived in my imagination for over two years, so this past July I finally visited Salem.
My main concern when I arrived was that I would get there and see I had gotten it all wrong and nothing was the way I described it. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. I was pleasantly surprised to find everything where I expected it to be. My only surprise was the tiny size of Lappin Park—with its statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha on Bewitched—which occupies the corner of a busy intersection. For a history buff like myself, Salem is a great find, bursting with everything from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace to memorials to the madness of the witch trials to a recreation of a pioneer village from the 1630s. And there’s the beauty and the serenity of the seaside to take in.
Most importantly, I was able to absorb the energy of the town while I was there. I could see the sea kissing the shore with my own eyes, and I saw the boats bobbing in the harbor. I walked the same streets my characters James and Sarah walk every night. I stood outside the Peabody-Essex Museum and I visited the House of the Seven Gables. Now I have a depth, a personal well of knowledge to draw from as I add more light and shadows to this ever-deepening story between the vampire and his eternal love.
Although it was my first time in Salem, I felt as if I were visiting it all over again. And I enjoyed every minute of my stay.
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