Where Do You Like a Book Located?
by June Shaw
When you read a book, do you care about the location of the story? Do you care whether the location is a real place or not?
I don't care about either.
Having said that, I consider a few books where I've cared, and where I prefer for the location to be real.
There are the Barbara Colley mysteries that feature a maid in the New Orleans famed Garden District. Those of us fortunate enough to have been in that area around the gorgeous monstrous homes can envision each house even more beautiful than the next one -- and a maid discovering what happens within their confines. These cozies are excellent reads for the stories and their unique people and setting.
Tell us only that a mystery is set in New Orleans, and readers' minds conjure various expectations. If it includes Bourbon Street, we have one mindset of what will occur and what we'll see. Tell us part of your story will take place in one of the cemeteries with large, above-ground tombs, and we'll envision one thing. Maybe shootings around the tombs. Maybe witches coming from them. Or zombies. How about voodoo?
Almost all of us can list large numbers of mysteries set in Los Angeles. New York. Chicago. Are any of them cozies? I haven't read one yet. A large majority of stories set in those states feature detectives and real, well-known streets and buildings.
Okay, it seems I do know what to expect from mysteries in many real places, and I do enjoy knowing what to expect.
I also realize I enjoy stories in which the author creates a setting, a community, the town's stores and streets. I have done both in my mystery series. I set the first book in a town I created outside Chicago, where I've enjoyed visiting. I love the Gatlinberg area and set the second book in a fictional place near there. I adore taking cruies, especially to Alaska, so gosh, guess the most recent place I needed to bring my spunky widowed protagonist and the hunky lover she tries to avoid so she can rediscover herself? (Of course the cruise line is fictional, although the ship's staff members enjoyed answering my questions like, "Where's a good place to find a body?")
Lots of readers here in south Louisiana have asked why I haven't set my books down here. Gosh, would it be more fun researching my city or a cruise ship?
We'll see. I am considering writing a future book or so set down here. And since Swamp People on the History Channel has become so popular, I might even give names of the real locations. Of course that's one of the things that's so enjoyable with writing fiction. We can decide and discover where we are and what will happen. I can't wait to find out what's coming up next in my books.
How about you? Do you like to read -- or write -- about a real location?