Setting: The other character
What if TWILIGHT had been set in San Francisco, or if INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE had taken place in a small town in Idaho? Would the stories have been as good? Maybe. Would they have been as successful? Maybe not. Choosing the right setting for your story is as important as choosing the right character. In many ways the setting for a story plays as much of a role in the plot as the characters.
In TWILIGHT, the rainy over cast days of Forks made it possible for Edward and the rest of the Cullens to mingle with humans and pose as one of them. When the setting changed to sunny days it had a notable impact on the story.
New Orleans has always been a Mecca for the supernatural, and the rich culture and beliefs of the Creole people. Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE incorporated that palpable magic ghosting through the city to influence the beliefs and behavior of her characters.
So how do you decide on the perfect setting for your story?
Well, for me, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania was a great fit for my latest book, HELLSBANE for several reasons. The city has a rich history from its early days being settled by the Dutch, to its dirtier years when it earned its nickname as the Steel City, to present day when it enjoys a reputation of friendly people with a love of great art, music, culture and kick butt sports teams.
My lead character, Emma Jane is a Pittsburgher, born and raised and the city offers the story some amazing backdrops. The overlook on Mount Washington, where visitors can take a ride on an incline and have an awesome view of the whole city, plays a role in two sword fighting scenes. Would the scenes have worked somewhere else? Maybe, but not as well.
Another scene takes place in Troy Hill, where Saint Anthony’s Chapel sits. The old church houses the second largest collection of religious relics in the world and those relics as well as the church have a direct impact on Emma Jane just as she discovering her new powers. I could’ve set the scene anywhere, but Saint Anthony’s was perfect because of those relics.
Aside from the great history, awesome cityscape, and amazing churches the other reason I chose Pittsburgh was because I personally knew and loved the city. I grew up just south of Pittsburgh and the city was a frequent destination throughout my life. All the places Emma visits, all the streets where the characters walk, talk, eat and sword fight, I’ve visited myself. Imagining them standing on the overlook, or eating at Primanti Brothers restaurant or standing outside the house on Cook Road was natural—easy.
Does that mean you can only set a story in a location you’ve been, or know well? Absolutely not. But like your characters, the better you know a setting the more real you can make it seem in the reader’s mind. And that’s always a goal for any writer.
But for those stories that absolutely must be set in a location you’ve never been, I highly recommend, Google Maps. Their satellite and street views are awesome! I like Google image searches too. A lot of times you can find pictures taken by everyday people that really give you an authentic feel for a place. And finally YouTube is a great resource to find vacation videos, documentaries or whatever, that just happened to have been filmed on the street where you need your character to live.
Ultimately the setting of your story should be a living breathing, contributing character. It should be as much a part of the book as any character and if you took it away, or replaced it by another, the story just wouldn’t be the same. If your setting sets the story, then you know you’ve found the perfect spot.
Author: Paige Cuccaro
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: December 2011
ePub ISBN: 978-1-937044-64-0
Print ISBN: 978-1-937044-65-7
Books 2 and 3 coming May 2012 and January 2013!
A HELLSBANE BOOK - Book One - by Paige Cuccaro
Emma Jane Hellsbane just found out she’s not human—or, at least, not only human. She’s half angel, too, and now Heaven’s got a job for her: round up all the Fallen angels and their red-skinned, horned devil-demon minions and boot their butts back into the abyss. Only problem? The demons and their Fallen masters fight back…and they don’t fight fair.
Luckily for Emma, she can put a stop to the constant threat of having her head hacked off if she figures out which Fallen angel is her father—and then kill him before he kills her. Of course, in the meantime, she’ll have to avoid accidentally seducing her angelic mentor, help an old friend conquer his own Fallen sperm donor, and basically save the world from a cataclysmic divine smack down.
No one said being Heaven’s bounty hunter would be easy. But with a name like Hellsbane, Emma Jane was born for the job.
About the Author:
Paige Cuccaro lives in Ohio where she spends her days as a wife, mother, avid reader and obsessed writer. She loves writing everything from laugh-out-loud young adult stories to steamy hot romances with a twist of paranormal. Witches, demons, vampires, werewolves and angels, if they can fall in love, Paige will tell you their story.
Find a few of Paige’s published works at Samhain Publishing and Berkley Books. You can also find novels from Paige’s risqué side under her pen name, Alison Paige where she’s published several erotic romances at Harlequin Spice, Samhain Publishing, and Ellora’s Cave Publishing .
I couldn’t breathe. My heart slammed in my chest like a caged animal and sweat chilled down my back. Muscles all over my body tensed, and instinct screamed through my mind, telling me to run. Run. RUN!
I shook my head, unclenched my fists, and forced a slow, steadying breath. The instinct wasn’t mine. It’s not mine. I had to focus. I blinked at the older woman’s smiling, pudgy face across the table from me and centered myself in reality again.
“Yes. Of course, Mrs. Bellmen. I’m…I’m sorry. I’m just getting some…outside psychic interference and it’s, um, clouding my concentration.”
Either that or my gift was finally giving me that aneurysm I always figured it would. Some gift.
God, I hated when other people’s emotions swamped over me like that. It was like drowning on dry land—drowning in someone else’s emotions with no life raft in sight. After twenty-three years of living with my gift, at least I’d gotten a handle on it. Gained control.
Feeling other people’s emotions—happy, sad, angry, horny…whatever—as though they were my own could seriously suck. If someone was close enough when the mood struck them, their emotions kind of splashed onto me, overwhelmed me until I couldn’t tell which were mine and which weren’t. My high school years, surrounded by raging hormones—mine and everyone else’s—were all kinds of torture. Thanks to the control I’d worked hard to establish, it hardly ever happened anymore. And luckily, when it did, I’d learned how to push away the false emotions and keep my head above the surface.
I’d also figured out a way to parlay my annoying talent into a marketable skill. A girl’s gotta eat.
I straightened, pushing the confusing clamor of angry, panicked emotions from my brain. I’d worry about where, and who, the emotions came from later.
“That’s all right, sweetheart,” Mrs. Bellmen said, nervously smoothing the giant gypsy-style scarf that doubled as my tablecloth. “You were saying something about my Dicky. That he wasn’t…”
Hope raised her brows, tugged at the corners of her age-thinned lips. I didn’t need my gift to know the answer she wanted from her psychic.
I smiled. “He wasn’t cheating before he died. Mr. Bellmen loved you very much. That’s not to say he didn’t notice his secretary, mind you, but you’re the one he loved.”
I was making it all up, of course. But I could feel by the rush of relief flooding through me—hers, not mine—that it’s what she wanted to hear.
Mrs. Bellmen sighed, her smile going full wattage. She snagged her enormous purse from the floor and stood. “Forty-three years. They weren’t all a walk in the park, but he was a good man. You’re a wonder, Madame Hellsbane.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Bellmen.” I waited while she slung her purse over her shoulder, and then followed her through the pocket doors to the entry.
“You take cash, don’t you, dear?” She crossed the hall into my dining room, which I’d converted into a waiting-room-slash-mystic-boutique.
“I love cash.”
After picking up a smudge-stick bundle and some cleansing candles, Mrs. Bellmen settled her bill. With a happy wave, she left, and I closed the door behind her, my mood light and happy…or maybe it was her mood. Either way…
I liked using my oddity to help people. Made me feel like there was a reason I was the way I was, rather than just random bad luck.