Santa Barbara has been featured as a setting in various works of fiction, both in books and in movies. The city’s picturesque landscapes, Spanish architecture, and coastal beauty have made it an attractive location for storytelling. While Santa Barbara might not have as deep a literary history as some other cities, it has still played a role in inspiring authors and serving as a backdrop for their creative works.

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Sue Grafton (1940-2017):

While not originally from Santa Barbara, Sue Grafton’s renowned “Alphabet” mystery series is set in the fictional town of Santa Teresa, modeled after Santa Barbara. Notable Works: The series starts with “A Is for Alibi” (1982) and features the witty and capable private investigator Kinsey Millhone as she solves various cases, each titled with a successive letter of the alphabet.

Ross Macdonald (1915-1983):

Ross Macdonald, whose real name was Kenneth Millar, was a renowned author of detective fiction. He is best known for his Lew Archer series, set in Southern California, including Santa Barbara. Notable Works: Some of his popular novels include “The Moving Target” (1949), “The Chill” (1964), and “The Underground Man” (1971). Macdonald’s complex mysteries often delve into psychological exploration and social issues.

T.C. Boyle (Born 1948):

T.C. Boyle is a contemporary author known for his diverse range of novels, often blending humor, satire, and exploration of societal themes.


Christopher Moore is celebrated for his humorous and imaginative novels, frequently combining elements of fantasy, satire, and unconventional storytelling. Notable Works: “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” (2002) humorously reimagines Jesus’ life through the perspective of his childhood friend, featuring sections set in Santa Barbara.

Denise Chávez is the author of Loving Pedro Infanteand Face of an Angel, which won the American Book Award. She is the recipient of a Lila Acheson Wallace/Reader’s Digest Fund Writer’s Award and a founder of the Border Book Festival in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she lives with her husband, Daniel Zolinsky.

Kem Nunn is a third-generation Californian whose previous novels include The Dogs of WinterPomona QueenUnassigned Territory, and Tapping the Source, which was made in to the film Point BreakTijuana Straits won the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He lives in Southern California, where he also writes screenplays for television and film.