Forget Paris or New York City—Smithville, Texas, is the town to visit if you want to add some drama to your life. The filming location for several Hollywood hits, it's also the setting of Beth Wiseman's new novel, The House That Love Built, which goes on sale today and was reviewed in our April issue. In a guest blog post, Wiseman explains why Smithville makes a terrific setting for stories.

I love writing stories that take place in Texas small towns. I chose Smithville as the locale for The House That Love Built because of the quaintness and friendly people. Lots of movies have been filmed in Smithville—Hope Floats and Tree of Life, just to name a couple.

The town is charming and filled with historic sites. It’s the perfect place for my hero to start over and purchase a turn-of-the-century house to restore—complete with a secret bunker! It was fun to write a romance while also weaving in the mysteries surrounding the house. My inspiration for the secret room actually came from a house in the small Texas town of Schulenburg. A friend restored his house, and in the basement, there was a bookshelf that opened into a secret room.

housethatlovebuiltI enjoy a good love story, but I write the way I like to read—with more going on than just "boy meets girl." I like to get into the heads of all the characters. This story has a secondary romance, an eccentric uncle, the town’s teenage troublemaker and even a finicky cat. Smithville was the perfect place to set this fun story.

Smithville’s claim to fame is two-fold. It is the first city in Texas to receive the “Film Friendly City” designation from the Texas Film Commission, and the city is also home to world’s largest gingerbread man, earning a place in the Guinness World Records in 2008. The giant cookie weighed over 1,300 pounds, and the mold used to make “Smitty” is on display next to the Chamber of Commerce office. Smithville is about 30 miles from my house, and it always makes for a good day of shopping and lunch.

The House That Love Built is about second chances, the power of forgiveness, and how God puts people in our lives, even though we can’t always foresee His plan.

Thanks, Beth! For more about Beth Wiseman, visit her on Facebook or explore her website. You can also check out the quaint town of Smithville online. And don't miss our review of The House That Love Built.

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