When you pick up a novel, do you care about the setting, or only the characters and their situation? For me, setting is rarely a primary consideration--usually I’m just after a great story. But occasionally a book’s setting will influence my decision to read it. For instance, I love English murder mysteries, and a large part of my enjoyment of these books comes from the setting and particular idiosyncrasies of this place and genre.
When I’m writing a book, I always try to select a setting that is particularly suited to my characters and the story I want to tell. My earlier books were generally set in locations that I know well... Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Small-town Saskatchewan...I’ve lived in all these places (which are all in Canada, if you hadn’t guessed!) and felt I could write about them with authenticity.
As I grew more experienced, I began to write about places that I had only visited. I bought maps, surfed the web, planned research trips...and in this way I was able to write stories in such diverse locations as Seattle, San Francisco, New Mexico, and New England. I fell in love with these locations, just as I fell in love with the characters I created who lived there.
When I decided I wanted to write a trilogy about a detective agency, I felt instinctively that New York City was going to be the right location for these stories. I have visited NYC several times and am one of those people who think It is the most amazing city in the world. (in fact, I have this fantasy where I rent an apartment and go to live there for a few months...but that’s a subject for another blog!)
In my mind, I could picture the Fox & Fisher Detective Agency in a brownstone in the Upper West Side, not that far from the Museum of Natural History. I couldn’t have been more pleased when I saw the covers the artists at Harlequin created for this series. To me, they capture the setting of these stories perfectly.
Still, now it’s time for me to work on the next story and so I find myself thinking about new settings. Where shall my next story take place? A small town in the mid-west, New England or along the sea shore? A big city like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles? A ranch in Montana or Texas? Or maybe a farm in Minnesota or North Dakota? If you have a favorite setting to read about, please share! I’m so curious...
C J Carmichael