During the month of May, I've invited several authors to help kick off my mystery-trivia book tour. Today my guest is New Zealander, Vonnie Hughes, who writes romantic suspense. Read what Vonnie has to say about the importance of setting in a novel.
Post a comment on my blog on any day between April 30 and June 1 and your name will be entered in a drawing for one of my trivia books. Three names will be drawn, one for each book.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SETTINGS
My favorite books all have
intriguing settings. I don’t mean they’ve necessarily had unusual settings,
just that the action/story has taken place in locations that add to the overall
impact of the book.
Take one of my keepers, Falling
Hard and Fast by Kylie Brant, published in 1999. It is timeless because one
of the protagonists in the book is the setting itself—the humid, slow as
molasses creeping heat of the Louisiana summer. All throughout the book Kylie
interposes little snippets like ‘The Stew ‘N Brew didn’t run to the healthier
menu choices. Most of their selections featured deep-fat-fried entrées dripping
with gravy. But their gumbo, Zoey had quickly learned, was out of this world.’
Can’t you just see the steamy, fatty-smelling kitchen out the back
where the cook wipes his brow with a dishcloth, and out front the patrons sit
in air-conditioned comfort conversing with laconic unsentimentality?
Another excerpt reads ‘Pulling up in front of Charity’s lone
department store, she got out of the car and felt the slap of solid heat that
thickened the air and squeezed the lungs.’ You can just imagine that heat
weighing down on your shoulders. I particularly like that ‘slap of heat.’ Sets
the tone nicely, even foretells a darkening of the story.
Many suspense and thriller writers use their characters’ foibles and
the sultry weather of the southern states in their stories e.g. Beverley
Barton’s Dying Game (Tennessee,
Kentucky and Alabama), Sandra Brown’s Breath
of Scandal (South Carolina) and Nora Roberts’ Tribute (Virginia).
But setting is not just a place. Setting can be weather or a
particular era or an otherworld. One of my favorite settings is JD Robb’s
futuristic New York in 2058. It’s even tougher and edgier than today’s NY, yet
Robb (Roberts) has been careful not to overload the reader with too many
details. A simple brushstroke here and there such as the overhead transports
that belch fumes thirty feet above pedestrians’ heads is all it takes to drag
the reader into the smog and cacophony of NY 2058.
As for Jayne Ann Krentz’s (Castle’s) futuristic setting for the
Dreamlight Trilogy, where mankind has left Earth and established other colonies
and where anything old brought from Earth is considered a valuable antique, it
couldn’t work without the creation of the world of Harmony.
Many fascinating settings are found in historical novels. Think of
the Regency era where people could communicate with the flick of a fan or by
raising an eyebrow. A raised eyebrow could mean ‘I share your joke’ or it could
be used to dampen pretension. The Victorian era, full of vice and
licentiousness but with its overall layer of ultra-respectability, is often
depicted by women wearing constricting corsets, crowded markets where
pickpockets abound and Bow Street Runners became superseded by Scotland Yard.
The flavor of a book is
determined by its setting.
What settings do you enjoy? What don’t
you like and why? Do they remind you of a bad time in your life? Or do you find
that particular time and place uninteresting? If you think about it, your
attitude towards a setting might say more about you than the book itself.
Vonnie is a New Zealander living in Australia. She loves animals and
jogging. She writes Regencies and romantic suspense novels and short stories.
See her full bio on www.vonniehughes.com
She is presently working on a romantic suspense, working title: Innocent
Hostage and a Regency novella, working title: A Tale of Two Sisters.
THE SECOND SON, e-published
by MUSA is actually a prequel to COMING
On January 13,
2012, The Wild Rose Press published both as a paperback and an e-book, Vonnie’s
romantic suspense LETHAL REFUGE, which
is set in New Zealand. An independent, mistrusting woman
witnesses a murder and is thrown into the witness protection program. There she
meets a police psychologist who demands complete trust from all the relocatees
so he can help them adapt to their new lives. Fur flies when they are stalked
by the killer who seems to be connected to the relocation team. Also available
on Amazon here:http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Vonnie+Hughes&x=18&y=20
Another Regency Historical, MR.
MONFORT’S MARRIAGE, was e-published by MUSA on January 27, 2012. Matthew Monfort is a businessman who is
inveigled into marrying an earl’s daughter. With good reason he loathes the ton, so his new wife needn’t think she’s
going to win him over, even though she’s quite delightful…and intelligent…and
sweet…However Verity shows him that not all members of the ton are idle layabouts and that he can do much good with his
largesse and with—shock, horror—the
unexpected and embarrassing title conferred on him by Prinny.
Stop by tomorrow for Sunday's for the Birds.