In novel writing, think location, location, location!

Writing a book involves more than just an engaging plot and dynamic characters. Another factor in hooking readers in is location. Where does the story take place? Is the city appropriate to the plot line, and how much does the writer know about the whereabouts. Often, much like in the business of real estate, location is everything. Some writers are known for style based entirely on the locations of their many books. Take Stephen King as an example. When we think of his stories, we picture the northeast, and usually, Maine. King was born in Maine and he's very familiar with the state. He writes what he knows. Other famous books are widely known for their international flair such as the Bourne trilogy by Robert Ludlum. Not a single fan is without knowledge that the spy, Jason Bourne, crosses international borders throughout each book. The Millennium series by Stieg Larsson ....Sweden.

So it goes without saying that the location is every bit as important as the plot and the characters. 

I've used both real and fictional locations in my stories. The fictional cities are Farley, Oklahoma in Harvest (The Harvest Trilogy Book I) and Pelican's Bay, Florida in Waiting a Lifetime. I've driven through Okalahoma, and my parents were both from Florida so there was at least some familiarity, but in my other books, I've used both cities that I've visited and those on my bucket list.

In book I of the Checkpoint, Berlin Detective Series, Exposed: the Education of Sarah Brown, the story begins in Helotes, Texas, not far from where I grew up on the northeast side of San Antonio. Our protagonist, Sarah, leaves her small town for big adventure overseas. She first visits Barcelona, Spain (a bucket list city) before flying to Berlin (visited in 2010). She ends in Amsterdam (a layover for me). Book II, The Evolution of Elsa Kreiss, the story continues in Berlin, and then steps a toe into Hamburg (bucket list). One of the characters is from Pskov, Russia, and there was a lot of research into the geography for that one. He's pretty wicked. Book III, The Redemption of Joseph Heinz, (Coming spring, 2016) has Heinz flying from Berlin to Stockholm, Sweden (bucket list) briefly before flying to St. Petersburg, Russia (a bucket list city as well). The stories are dark, criminal, upsetting, and the locations couldn't be any less so. Adding places that are either industrial and/or frigid in temperature adds to the setting creating the proper mood.

My stand alone paranormal vampire romance, Darkest Communion, takes place in Bucharest, Romania because.....of course! Where else would an 800-year-old vampire live? The story incorporates the eastern European folklore of the Strigoi and gypsy curses. It was important to have a believable location where locals still believed in the old ways, in mysticism, shamanism, and tales about monsters.

Returning to my UFO-themed saga, The Harvest Trilogy, books II and III take place respectively, in my hometown of Schertz, Texas (Celluloss), and a neighboring town I visit often, Marion, Texas (Census). I had to go into some details in order to blow up a city...what better place than one I know like the back of my hand?

Finally, I needed to country-hop for my angel series. Jerusalem (researched city) was high on the list because...angels! Book III, Sophie's Wish, is set at Christmas in Paris, France (bucket list).  Book II, Camael's Battle, has some epic sword fights in biblical locations in Jerusalem.

In 2016, the full length novel for The Ghosts of Cardiff, my new series, will explore supernatural crime and cold cases in and around Cardiff, Wales (visited in 2010). Who doesn't like a good ghostly mystery, and I feel as if the older the story, originating in a city of historic significance where more battles than we can count on our fingers and toes happened, the better.
Another important element in many stories...the weather! We'll talk about that next time. What cities have you visited, which are your favorites? Share in the comments below. 

To find these books, click on the "BOOKS BY MICHELE E. GWYNN" tab.


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