|Key West Sailboat - ©Mary Montague Sikes|
"Do you like to travel in the Caribbean?" I ask, hopeful I'll learn that he or she has been to one of the islands my books feature and loved the trip.
"No. I've never been to the Caribbean."
"I haven't been to Antigua."
"I don't want to go to Jamaica."
"Where is Trinidad?"
These are the answers I often get. My publisher created the "Passenger to Paradise" series for my books, so those responses disappoint me. I wrote Secrets by the Sea because a museum director on the island of Antigua intrigued me with his stories about the rich history of this tropical paradise. I hope to find readers who relate to the island's history or to the fact it was settled by the British. I want to find people who have gone to Jamaica and appreciate a fantasy story related to the legend of the white witch of Rose Hall (Hearts Across Forever). I want to discover those who have visited Mexico or Central America and have studied the Maya ruins because of those visits (Jungle Jeopardy).
Perhaps I am approaching potential readers the wrong way. Should I ask, "Are you an armchair traveler who fantasizes about visiting the tropics?"
With the unusual cold weather we have now in Virginia, a warm destination like Key West, Florida sounds perfect. I could curl up with a book set in a nice tropical place where warm breezes blow and sweet floral scents fill the air.
As a writer, what do you do for a positive response from readers? How do you you draw them into your settings? Do you learn from readers at your book signings?