Monday, April 24, 2006
My friend Melanie Hayden blogs today about setting for her novels. Where do you set your novels, and why?
My adult romantic comedy Your Cheatin’ Heart, about a country band gone wild and the record company publicist sent to tame them, is set in Birmingham. Originally I planned to set it in Key West, where I’ve been on vacation three times. But I don’t know Key West like the back of my hand, and I felt that researching the place was getting in the way of my creative process. I couldn’t “see” the events of the novel happening in Key West like I could here. So here the book came. The band shares a mansion in Mountain Brook and plays a Fourth of July Nationally Televised Concert Event at the base of the statue of Vulcan. Setting the novel here worked out well, I thought, because Vulcan’s naked fanny shining over Homewood is the funniest thing ever. You can’t make this stuff up.
The setting of my YA romantic comedy Major Crush was a no-brainer: it happens in a small town on a lake, very much like Alexander City, where I grew up. But my last novel and my WIP take a departure. The setting for my YA romance Boy in Blue, about a 17-year-old who avoids prosecution for a high school stunt by spending spring break assigned to night patrol with the 19-year-old rookie cop who arrested her, is set in a combination of Trussville, Moody, and Chelsea. No one would recognize this town, because it doesn’t exist. But most people would understand the complicated dynamics of a small town that used to be an entity of itself and recently has become part of a larger metropolitan area as the big city reached out to meet it. My WIP, another adult romantic comedy—well, imagine the Germanic tackiness of Helen, Georgia, transplanted to the approximate location of Horse Pens 40. Even though I have never been to these imaginary places, I think I have a good feel for the characters and problems we’d likely find in most Alabama towns.