for the most part I try to not to pin point my story in one specific location so that it can take place just about anywhere in the readers mind. The only time I would pick a location is if it's essential to the story. If that's the case then the first choice for me are places I've been to before. If that is not possible then I'll do some research and try to pull it off.
Patricia Cornwell is a fantastic author. I've read, I think, the first 10 or so books in the Scarpetta series. There's one book that I can't read very often, and I read good books over and over again, because it is so intense. I think it is one of the most well named books on the planet, Intesity by Dean Koontz.
just like lady sharon, it's an escape from my boring little life into something unknown. Since I can use my senses, if the story is good enough, it feels like I'm living the story. I love the thrill of experiencing something I will never be able to experience in my own life, which is one reason I love horror so much, the visceral experience can be so powerful.
for me it's mornings as soon as I've had my first cup of coffee. If I get too distracted my day is shot, and I cna't get back in the zone.
I'm pretty harsh on my own writing. I've found the process to be fun since I've been able to revise some of my stories into completely different ways. I can write 10 or more drafts to insure I'm happy with it, for a time.