What's So Great About New Jersey? Author Emma Chase Is Glad You Asked

Setting her Getting Some romance series in her home state was a no-brainer for best-selling author Emma Chase, and she's here to tell you why.

One of the joys of writing stories for a living is the chance to create new worlds, explore unfamiliar places, and slip inside the heads of characters whose life experiences are starkly different from your own.

But there’s something particularly wonderful about writing a story that’s set in a place you know inside and out. Somewhere you’ve lived, loved, watched the sky, heard the sounds, breathed the air. You know the people there—how they think, how they talk, what they hope for, what makes them laugh.

Something special happens when you’re writing about home.

Memories and nostalgia bleed into the words. The characters are more relatable, the setting is more surround sound, the storyline feels more genuine.

More real.

My newest release, Getting Real, is a sexy, funny, beautiful romance that’s set in New Jersey, my home state (as are the two other books in the series, Getting Schooled and Getting Played). The small, tight-knit, fictional town of Lakeside was inspired by my own hometown, where my entire family still lives.

"Jersey is the best of all worlds because all the worlds are within easy reach."

There’s a warmth and sweetness to these books that feels a little different from my other stories. They’re comfort reads—low angst, real-to-life, with characters you want to be friends with.

But I’ve been asked, when I could’ve set these heartwarming, swoony stories anywhere—why did I pick New Jersey? What’s so great about it?

Well, pull up a chair.

I’ll start with the simple stuff. Jersey bagels are the best bagels (sorry NYC). We also have the best pizza (I said what I said)—whether it’s a pie from your local strip-mall pizzeria or a giant slice on the boardwalk down the Jersey shore, there’s nothing else like it. Most of our pizzerias and bagel shops are family run, small-business owned—with workers who know your face, your order, and maybe even your kids.

In real estate, location is king and one of the best parts of living in New Jersey is the location. Manhattan, Philadelphia, and the Poconos are about an hour away, and New Jersey has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, not to mention lush green parks, lakes, and playgrounds.

Jersey is the best of all worlds because all the worlds are within easy reach.

It’s a warm, sweet center of small-town life encased in an urban shell. It’s horse farms and tree farms and pick your own apples and fields of corn just a couple of Parkway exits away from the pulsing vitality of city streets.

"New Jersey does things our own way—it may not be the quietest way or the quickest or the easiest way—but it’s our way."

That’s not to say we don’t have our negatives, but even our dysfunctions are uniquely, hilariously Jersey. We’re one of the last states in the country where it’s actually against the law to pump your own gas (not that I’m complaining—frankly, I feel bad for the rest of you).

Which brings me to my favorite thing about New Jersey—the people. Contrary to the reputation that proceeds us, New Jersey people are not mean—we’re just busy. We don’t have time for bulls**t. But I have literally seen three lanes of rush-hour NJ Turnpike traffic come to a halt for a mother duck and her string of ducklings crossing the road. We have hearts—big ones.

There’s a stubborn, brash, statewide individualism that can only be understood by living here. No matter where you are in the world if you meet another person from New Jersey—there’s a connection, you get each other.

"I grew up off exit 135."

"No kidding—I lived off 124—my grandmother still has a house on Rt 9."

And that’s what comes across most strongly in Getting Real, Getting Played, and Getting Schooled—one of the things I think you’ll love.

The sense of community. The feeling of home.

Sure we’ll lay on our horns or flip each other off if you’re doing the speed limit in the left lane (out-of-state drivers: don’t do that). But we’ll also stop to see if you need a jump or a phone call if your car breaks down on the side of the road. We’ll help our neighbors, raise money or donations of food and clothes if someone is hit hard by a fire or a storm. Our celebrities, time and again, go to bat for and pay homage to their NJ hometowns—because no matter where they go or how successful they become, there’s a part of them that will always just be a guy or a girl from Jersey.

Maybe that feeling of home and community exists in other places—I hope it does.

But it would still feel different than it does here. Because New Jersey does things our own way—it may not be the quietest way or the quickest or the easiest way—but it’s our way.

And as for me and my characters?

There’s no place else we’d rather be.

Tags

More from Emma Chase

Up Next

The Best Audiobooks About Psychopaths

Stories of psychopaths abound in just about every mystery subgenre, from action-packed thrillers to nuanced psychological character studies, and also stand out in works of psychology and neuroscience. Get ready to listen to some of the most riveting and unsettling books about psychopaths and sociopaths.