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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Love Is Just A Game - Inspiration, Part II

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

In my earlier post, I wrote about how my lifelong love of baseball served as inspiration for my book. Now I want to talk about my other huge inspiration--Arizona! Most specifically, the landscapes of southern Arizona, where the story takes place.

First, some geography. Love is Just a Game is set in the fictional town of Santa Rita that just might be very similar, in many ways, to the real town of Patagonia, Arizona. Patagonia is in the southeastern part of the state, very close to the border with Mexico. One of the many amazing things about Arizona is the vast range of ecologies encompassed in the state--I live in the Sonoran Desert, known mostly for our wonderful, tall, saguaro cactus which don’t grow anywhere else in the world. Go north a few hundred miles from Tucson and you’ll be in the forested mountains around Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. Drive southeast from Tucson, and you emerge out of the cactus-y desert and into desert grasslands of Sonoita and Patagonia. It’s a stunning area---low, rolling hills of golden grasses, spotted with oak and juniper trees, with beautiful Sonoita Creek providing riparian habitat as it snakes through the valley. I’ve always loved this area of Arizona. When I was a child, we traveled to Patagonia frequently for my brother’s high school baseball games. As an adult, I go there for birding, or wine tours, or a day trip to Patagonia Lake State Park or Parker Canyon Lake. It’s slightly cooler there than in Tucson, but with the wide open skies and mountains rising in the distance that feels very Arizona.

Some readers of Love Is Just A Game have noted that the landscape feels like a character of its own, which is a very kind way of saying that I pay a lot of attention to the natural world and add it into my manuscripts whenever I can. It’s possible that I write a whole bunch of nature scenes I end up cutting out. Before trying my hand at fiction, most of my writing was nature-based creative non-fiction, so when I decided to write a novel, it was natural for me to set it in a place that I wanted to write about, describe, and bring into the story as much as possible.

And an interesting thing happened while I was working on this post! For my baseball inspiration, I have a few specific scenes in the manuscript that focus on baseball for at least a couple paragraphs. For the landscape descriptions, however, I’ve realized they

come in words and phrases and half-sentences. Dark-scaly mesquite trees, golden grasses, smooth gray rocks at the edge of a lake, a little bird glinting red in the sunlight. I like to think that the whole thing sort of shines with the feeling of Arizona sunshine, with the wide-open feeling of a landscape that shows itself for miles and miles.

I'm currently working on a manuscript set in and around Tucson, and having a wonderful time writing about the desert where I grew up. Stay tuned for some teasers from that! And enjoy some photos of the beautiful Patagonia-Sonoita region of southern Arizona.

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