Monday, April 18, 2016

Pick a time and place and I'll meet you there

What prompted you to use the setting and time period for your latest book or series?

by Meredith Cole

For an author, picking a time and place for a story or book is a really important decision to make. Where and when matters a lot. It effects the story (what can happen), the characters, the language, the atmosphere... And just about everything. So--no pressure, huh?

How did I choose Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the 1990's for my books POSED FOR MURDER and DEAD IN THE WATER? Easy peasey. I lived there. I knew it. It was colorful and interesting. And there were so many different ethnic groups, artists, developers, etc., all jockeying for space and resources that the place was ripe for a murder (or two or three...).

And what about a midwestern setting in 1951 for my book (not yet out) called THE HOLD UP? Um, not so simple. It developed slowly and painfully and required a lot of research. I didn't know the place and time. I just felt like it was right, so I plowed on through the painful research process and told myself it would all end up okay... And I hope it did.

In most of my stories, I tend to pick a place I've lived or been enough to feel comfortable there. And I usually set them in modern times for the same reasons. It's really just easier that way, and I hate to get bogged down in research and never get started on writing the actual book or story.

Happily for me, I've lived in lots of places and traveled a bit. I could write about Virginia, DC, New York, Paris, Massachusetts or Pittsburgh. But also after going through the research process on one book, I feel more confident that I could do it again with another. So--the sky is the limit! Pick a time and a place and I'll meet you there...

1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

Given that you (like me) have lived lots of places and like to work from one of those rather than get bogged down in research, I'm curious about your determination to set your new novel in an unknown area. The story or the characters demanded something unique to the Midwest? You were just ready for the challenge? Best of luck with it, Meredith!