My agent posted today on settings and characters that make her swoon. Jennifer Represents: My Kinks
I love her answers and it is obvious why we are a good agent/author match, but I also love that question so I'm going to post mine too. Obviously these are kind of reader/writer kinks in my case.
--Decadent royal courts with lots of intrigue and pretty clothes (like pre-Revolutionary France, Vienna or Venice in their heyday, Heian Japan, whatever)
--Places and times where artists, bohemians and/or radicals flourished (like 1920s Europe, Transcendentalists, Greenwich Village back in the day, hippies taken seriously, women studying science in the Age of Enlightenment, etcetera)
--18th century to Edwardian era Western world in general
--Ancient China (I would die to see a YA take on part of Romance of the Three Kingdoms or something like that)
--Also just Asia in general, especially if it's not a typical story, and anything involving east-meets-west like travelers on the Silk Road or Japan opening to the west. (I like culture clashes in general.)
--Kids living in big cities; wacky neighbors in apartment buildings or taking public transit or going to big old libraries (and getting trapped in them overnight!) or whatever, that sense of the urban playground that is full of fascinating characters and just slightly dangerous without being too much so
--Quirky, somewhat eccentrically-run schools
--As previously discussed in my blog, characters who must contend with being an outsider because of disability, race, species, magical oddity, etc. (foreigners, mermaids, charismatic blind dudes, automata/androids, people with a weird magical power, etc. etc.)
--Gender-bending themes of any kind, cross-dressers, dandies, androgyny
--Anything dealing with people of different social classes clashing or falling in love, princesses falling in love with street urchins and things like that, and as Jenn said, rags-to-riches or riches-to-rags or any variation thereof
--Protagonists who are artists, writers or performers
--Airships, aviation, train journeys, doomed ocean liners, 18th century naval themes a la Nelson and Napoleon, basically anything capturing the wonder and mystery of transportation
--Big messy families with complicated relationships; royal families and organized crime families
--Betrothals and arranged marriages
--Smart, handsome older men with mentor-ish roles (since I guess it's not very appropriate to make them the love interest...so sue me, even when I was like eight I thought old actors were hotter than young ones); bonuses for old gay guys, tragic secret pasts, college professors, particularly dapper wardrobes, dry wit, etc.
That's all that crosses my mind for today. I bet you've thought of some of yours by now. Tell me!!