Welcome to Fictional “Crystal Bay,” Wisconsin! Here’s a Look at the Inspiration Behind the Setting of The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries!

Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, the setting of my Callie’s Kitchen series is a fictional place, and an amalgamation of several Wisconsin towns. However, there is one REAL place that gives me a lot of inspiration as I sit down to write Callie’s latest adventures: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. lake geneva wisconsin summer view from library park

I’m so thrilled when readers share with me their mutual love for Lake Geneva — whenever I mention this is an inspiration for my books, those familiar with the area get really excited about it. I have visited the Geneva Lakes my entire life and one summer, I thought — why not set a cozy mystery here? The rest is history, lol.

For those of you not from the Midwest, let me share some pictures and thoughts with you about the inspiration behind the fictional waterfront town that Callie Costas and crew call home.

Located in Southeastern Wisconsin, near the Illinois border, Lake Geneva is home to a large natural lake (hence the name), which made it an attractive prospect for wealthy Chicagoans (Wrigley, for one) in which to build their summer homes. Many of these homes were built in what is known as “The Gilded Age.”baker house summer view lake geneva

The influx  of rich Chicagoans to the Lake Geneva area began in the mid-19th century but it increased greatly in the 1880s following the Chicago fire of 1871. Many people who could afford it hurried north to seek refuge while the city was being rebuilt. In the meantime, they built and occupied some stunning homes, which are still around to this day — and they’re worth millions.lake geneva mansion condostwo lake geneva mansions summer view from the lake

Mrs. DeWitt, a character in ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK, my first book, lived in one of these homes. Drew, Callie’s ill-fated boyfriend in my debut mystery, lived in one of the lake homes, but not one of the “historical” mansions — I picture his home as being built more recently, but in a style keeping with the neighborhood.

lake geneva boat tour summer mansionsYou can take a boat tour and learn the fascinating history of these mansions and the people who built them and I highly recommend you do so if you visit the area. There is even a mail boat tour, as many of these residences still get their mail via boat. How cool is that?

In Book 3 of the Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries (title to come soon — I think I have it but want to be sure! :)), I will be using some of the history of the region to motivate my characters and story. I am beyond excited about this and am hoping to give you some really fun surprises.

Beyond the mansions, the town is filled with natural beauty, a charming downtown, restaurants and shops galore. Drive a little further out of town and you will find resorts, working farms, more waterways and beaches. It’s a colorful and beautiful place and that’s why I chose it to inspire the Crystal Bay of my imagination.Lake Geneva Wisconsin downtown summer scene

To be clear: Crystal Bay is not an exact replica of Lake Geneva. I leave Crystal Bay to your own imaginations, as well, which is part of the fun of reading (and writing). But I thought you’d enjoy this inside scoop at the setting for my books, especially since so many of you have told me you really enjoy the setting. That makes me very happy, since I think of Crystal Bay as a character in its own right.

FYI: I will be blogging more frequently. It’s been crazy around here with working on Book 3, developing the print versions of my first two books and the general chaos of having two teenagers. Be sure to visit back, soon, though, because I have some really fun stuff planned for the blog. You can follow my blog and always check my Facebook page for info, too. Also, my newsletter will keep you up to date on everything book related!lake geneva beach sign summer

Mark your calendars for next Friday,  March 24th! I wrote a guest post for Lisa K’s Book Thoughts popular feature: “Cozy Food Friday.” I  will be talking about the magic of Wisconsin supper clubs and I share two delicious recipes — one is for a cocktail — well, it is Friday, after all. 🙂 For those of you who’ve read SPICED AND ICED, you will remember a scene with Callie and her BFF Sam in a Wisconsin supper club — these wonderful eateries are a Wisconsin tradition that more people need to know about! Be sure to visit Lisa’s blog if you haven’t already! She’s got all the latest cozy mystery book reviews, author interviews, giveaways and recipes. You’ll love it.

See you next time!

Jenny

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