The backdrop for any novel is important. Sometimes, even without trying, the author makes the location the quietest character in the book and other time the location is the book. For example, instead of those foggy moors, we’ll put those Hounds of Baskerville attacks in a bustling city. The book would probably read more like American Werewolf in Paris circa 1901 and of course Sherlock Holmes would be caught in the throes of depression by the downward spiral society had suddenly taken. What if Carrie Bradshaw worked at the Idaho Press-Tribune instead of a paper in New York? Well, the answer is easy. Nobody would know who the hell she was because there might Sex and the City, but there wouldn’t be Sex in Boise—at least not with Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda.
Location is one of the first things I begin to think of when I start a new book. Do my characters fit there? Can they slip this house, city, or island on like a glove? A lot more goes into mysteries with ambience. Agatha Christie’s The Orient Express, backdrop steals the show and even now people do mysterious on trains due to that very book.
Do all spine tingles need to come into the form of the Overlook Hotel? No but would the reader have been scared witless if the location of Stephen Kings The Shining was a B&B just up the street from the next big city? The isolation mixed in with the elements from winter and immense space made for one helluva nail biter.
Jaded is a ghost story based in a seaside costal town. Vine is a place where the upper middle class keep each other’s secrets in hopes to cash in on a few favors of their own. The backdrop of Jaded is this fictional town based on Santa Barbara, one of my favorite cities in California. Santa Barbara is gorgeous, laid back, and expensive as all get out. The people who live there are comfortable within their own skin and with their own money. Anything that could possibly jeopardize this way of life will be beaten into obliteration with fist and elbows. That’s why a ghost with an agenda works great; how does one silence something that won’t shut up and money can’t buy?
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