Friday, November 5, 2010

Vicki Delany on fictional vs real settings

Shane's Question for Vicki on Friday

Your new book features a town in British Columbia. Are your locations real, or
are they fictional? Which kind of setting do you prefer to write in?

The location of the Constable Molly Smith books is Trafalgar, B.C. in the area called the Mid-Kootenays. Trafalgar is fictional as is the Mid-Kootenays. There is however a West Kootenay and an East Kootenay. Trafalgar is a not at all disguised version of the town of Nelson. Cities such as Vancouver and Calgary and the nearby town of Castlegar are mentioned to give the location a grounding on the map. The nearest city, by the way, to both Trafalgar and Nelson is Spokane, Washington. Basically you need a passport to go to the mall.

I created a fictional town mainly because it can be tricky dealing with places where prominent people such as the mayor or the chief of police are known as people as well as just their job titles. The mayor of Trafalgar is, well, dead, and the Chief Constable (i.e. the Chief of Police) smokes too much and is secretly in love with the mother of one of his officers. I don’t want anyone thinking I know things about the chief that I don’t. Or about the state of the mayor’s health, come to think of it.

From a purely practical point of view, I don’t want to have to be worried about putting a restaurant where the bank is or misnaming the streets. And last of all, real places can be limiting. In my newest book, Negative Image, it’s a major plot point that the room service waiter goes into a hotel room. There isn’t a hotel in all of Nelson that has room service!

Sometimes, of course, real-life has to take a back seat to the interests of a good story. No one in Nelson can quite remember when the last murder was. In Trafalgar, there are rather a lot.

As for which I prefer, it is so much easier just to make it up. In the book I mentioned in answer to Tracey’s question that is set in New York, I had to make a trip to New York City specially to walk the streets where one of the scenes take place. When you’re setting something in a real place you want to get it right.

The pictures above are of "Trafalgar". One shows the view from Molly Smith's apartment. There are more pictures of Trafalgar on Vicki's web page at

No comments: