My fiction carries a strong sense of place. I prefer reading books where place impacts plot and characterization. Most readers, in my humble opinion, want setting to be a solid piece of the composition, where they feel they’ve left the world they live in and have completely immersed themselves into another, regardless the genre.
When you consider place, note that people as a whole usually fall into one category or another. They either love their home and the comfort of roots, or they dream of travel. Any book needs to accommodate one feeling or the other, if not both.
This blog tour I’m on of late, is in honor of my latest release Newberry Sin, the fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries. Setting sucked me into this story. My tales are usually grounded in real places. Towns, beaches, rural areas more than urban. Newberry Sin takes place in a real community named Newberry. Why? Because I can so see myself living there. It reminds me of age-old roots I wish still existed.
Small town Southern beckons me. I was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi and spent summers on my grandparents’ cotton farm. Grandpa was a farmer who donned a wilted fedora even in the fields with Grandma wearing a farmer’s wife dress and proverbial apron that could carry three dozen eggs from the coop back to the house. I climbed pear trees and chased feral kittens amongst the hay bales in the barn. Took my summer afternoon naps on an eight-inch-deep quilt spread across a four-poster bed. My grandmother’s rooster and Billy goat chased my sister, but loved me. I collected eggs but could not watch a hen prepped for dinner.
I played in the hollowness under a wisteria bush and tried to remember not to let the screen door slam on my way out. Biscuits were homemade every morning, served with real butter and maple syrup with my record being twelve biscuits at one sitting. For the longest time, the only phone was a party line that I would sneak and eavesdrop on when nobody looked.
Carolina Slade, the protagonist in this series, loves the country, has a degree in agricultural,
Setting is a powerful tool. Its foundation helps mold the personality, mission, and emotional substance of a character. It’s why authors owe readers the purest delivery of that sense of place that they can. Because to refine your players, they have to be home to understand what to defend, or be away from home to have something to miss. Some piece of place grounds them, or leaves them restless. They pine for what they don’t have, or they find themselves unable to leave it.
After WKDK-AM Radio in Newberry invited me five years ago to talk about Carolina Slade’s first escapades on the air, I was invited to one book club, then another. Each person, each setting, made me fall in love with all things Newberry. I joined the Friends of the Library, a strong contingency fighting illiteracy in Newberry County, and soon found myself at their annual, old-fashioned luncheon of chicken salad, fruit salad, and a take-away Dixie cup filled with a potted vinca or begonia for each person to take home and plant.
This was what I wanted in my Slade books. Five years after that introduction, Slade finally tackles a mystery in Newberry, South Carolina. The town is thrilled. Heck, the neighboring towns are thrilled. I’m beyond thrilled, because as I stated, everyone either feels at home, or wishes they could be there, while at the same time journeying through a mystery where the clues make everyone sure they can figure it out, because it’s all so familiar.
Book Trailer: https://animoto.com/play/xiGEHQRZLWWcrpPgHQgP4w
BIO: C. Hope Clark’s latest is Newberry Sin, her eighth mystery. Hope is also founder of FundsforWriters, and her newsletters reach 34,000 readers each Friday. Her novels have won several awards, for content and covers, and Writer’s Digest selected FundsforWriters for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the last 17 years. www.chopeclark.com