Setting – Real or Imaginary?

October 29, 2021

Welcome to Lois Winston, my bestselling author friend who writes the hilarious Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. If you like wacky characters, clever plots, and interesting settings, you’ll love her series.

Setting – Real or Imaginary? by Lois Winston

When Nancy invited me to guest blog here, she mentioned that she was enjoying the setting of my latest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Stitch Bake, Die! The book mostly takes place at an exclusive country club that’s hosting a conference. Nancy asked if I had based the setting on an actual place. I had.

In November 2019, months before Covid shut down the world, my husband and I were invited to a wedding held at one of the most exclusive private venues in the country. Along with weddings and other social and corporate events, the site is often used as a movie and TV location, as well as for fashion photography shoots. It’s located on some of the priciest real estate in the country, which might surprise those of you who only think of strip malls, The Sopranos, and Snooki when it comes to New Jersey.

The centerpiece of the estate is a Norman-inspired chateau, originally built as a home for a New York City industrialist in the early days of the twentieth century. Along with the chateau, there are various outbuildings, including a conference center, horse stable, helipad, and both formal gardens and woodlands, complete with ponds, streams, and meandering footpaths. However, unlike many over-the-top estates built by the Robber Barons of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this one is elegant rather than ostentatious, featuring hand-carved mahogany woodwork and handmade Spanish and Portuguese tiles. The moment I stepped foot inside the chateau, I knew I’d eventually use it as a setting in a future book.

That opportunity arose when I came up with the plot of Stitch, Bake, Die!, my tenth Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery. However, given that I set a murder in the chateau, I’ve given it a fictitious name.

This is not the first time I’ve used a real-life setting in my books. All my books are set in locations familiar to me. The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries take place in an actual New Jersey town. Many readers have told me they enjoy reading about places they know. Others have expressed interest in one day traveling to a location I’ve described, like when Anastasia accompanied boyfriend Zack Barnes to Barcelona in Mosaic Mayhem. Unfortunately, Anastasia wound up kidnapped at Parc Güell during her visit. As a result, she didn’t have much time to experience the grandeur of Antoni Gaudi’s whimsical mosaic masterpiece. Then again, I am writing mysteries, not travelogues!

Have you ever read a book set in a location familiar to you? Do you enjoy the special intimacy of having been to the town or city where the story is set and to various places within that setting?

Stitch, Bake, Die!

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 10

Stitch, Bake, Die!

With massive debt, a communist mother-in-law, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a photojournalist boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack already juggles too much in her life. So she’s not thrilled when her magazine volunteers her to present workshops and judge a needlework contest at the inaugural conference of the New Jersey chapter of the Stitch and Bake Society, a national organization of retired professional women. At least her best friend and cooking editor Cloris McWerther has also been roped into similar duties for the culinary side of the 3-day event taking place on the grounds of the exclusive Beckwith Chateau Country Club.

The sweet little old ladies Anastasia is expecting to meet are definitely old, and some of them are little, but all are anything but sweet. She’s stepped into a vipers’ den that starts with bribery and ends with murder. When an ice storm forces Anastasia and Cloris to spend the night at the Chateau, Anastasia discovers evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and a bevy of suspects.

Can she piece together the various clues before she becomes the killer’s next target?

Crafting tips included.

Buy Links
Apple Books


 Lois Winston

USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

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• Posted in Blog • Tags: , , , |  10 Comments

10 thoughts on “Setting – Real or Imaginary?

  1. The setting of a book is important to me. I like to write about places I’m familiar with in a way that would entice readers to visit the locales. I also like settings that make me want to travel to the area.
    The estate you visited seems to have it all—great places to hide a body.
    Nice post, Lois and Nancy!

  2. Nancy, I don’t think you can get a tour unless you’re interested in booking the place for an event. I didn’t see anything at the venue or online about tours being open to the public.

  3. I love traveling somewhere and getting that feeling it has to be in a book. The setting for this book sounds like a great place for intrigue and murder. I just ordered it and will have something fun to look forward to.

  4. I am enjoying Stitch, Bake, Die! and look forward to reading your backlist! I’ve written four series and set two of them in actual places, but I’m totally making up the county and town for the one I’m working on now.

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