We can’t get enough of local scribe John Shors’ novels, and his fourth and newest work, The Wishing Trees (NAL Trade, September), is no disappointment. With his trademark knack for immersing the reader in vivid settings, Shors has painted a picture of heartache and healing through the journey of a widowed father and daughter who wrench themselves from New York City to explore the mysteries of Asia together. Here, Shors dishes on his inspiration.

Q: How much of your personal experience comes through in your books?
Quite a bit. I go to great lengths to write about things I know. My MO is to identify and explore a compelling locale that hasn’t been brought to life in Western novels and bring it to life on the page. These places are halfway around the world; not many novelists are going [there].

Q: Your novels have shifted from historical romance to contemporary tales. Why?
I want to give readers different types of stories, but the style remains the same. I have my own kind of signature elements. I’m interested in populating my novels with different characters—different in terms of religion, age, and background.

Q: What inspired The Wishing Trees?
My wife and I have two young children. We plan on doing a lot of traveling with them. I wonder: If something were to happen to one of us, could the other take on this ambitious task? As parents, you want your children to experience beautiful and wonderful things, but you obviously have to balance that with their safety and well-being.

Q: Are the characters in The Wishing Trees based on real people?
I’ve never based my main characters on anyone I know in life; that’s never appealed to me. But I don’t think I could have written this novel without having children. It would have been hollow.

Q: What’s next?
The novel I’m working on right now takes place on a beautiful island in Thailand that’s hit very hard by the tsunami. It’s going to be a real page-turner—there hasn’t been a novel about the tsunami yet. And, I’m working on a big historical epic for 2012.