Does reading a book ever motivate you to work harder for your dreams rather than just escape into them? I read a great book
this weekend by P.J. Alderman called Haunting Jordan. It’s a fun paranormal mystery set in Port Townsend, Washington (although it is given the fictional name of Port Chatham in the book). When I picked up the book, I hoped to enjoy escaping into it for a few hours. What I didn’t expect was to fall so deep into it that after reading “The End” I began to look online at historic
homes available for sale in Port Townsend. This in turn led to a dollar amount being set in my head of what I need to make income-wise to be able to afford one of those gorgeous historic homes. And that led to me hitting the keys with a whole new motivation for writing the next book and getting it out there. Wait! I thought I was just supposed to escape into fiction. In actuality, P.J. lit a fire under my hiney and made me excited to push onward and upward. Has this ever happened to you?
When I write a book, I believe a big part of my responsibility as GOD of my little world is to create a setting real enough
that readers feel transported to the story location. The trick is to bring the setting to life without letting the reader see
the behind-the-scenes work going on. I think of it as more than just one of those old west town storefronts. It’s like the stage
of a play all prepped with characterization tidbits. To pull this off, I have to learn everything I can about a place—the flora, the fauna, the scents, the sounds, the weather, and more.All five senses get involved. Fortunately, I know Deadwood (my
current series’ setting) well after spending many summers and some winters there. But what if you haven’t visited or lived
in a location where you want to set your story? How do you go about learning your setting well enough to fool the reader into
believing its real (and accurate). The internet? National Geographic shows? How?
Some of the reviews I’ve received about my series are from local South Dakotas (Deadwood area) who write that I nailed the setting and characters. These are some of my favorite reviews. Our books have to pass the test with locals as well as readers. Some days, that task scares the crap out of me. Other days, I enjoy the challenge. Can you think of any books you’ve read where the author did not get the setting right? Did it affect your reading experience? Stephen King wrote about a small town that neighbors my hometown in his book, The Stand. He was all wrong about the town, but I was so excited to see it in his book that I didn’t care (the name of the town is my maiden name and it was founded by my ancestors, so details didn’t matter on that one).
Happy writing and reading!