Today we’re hearing from an alter ego! Leeann Betts, a pen name for Donna Schlachter, wants to share her own thoughts on how a writer chooses setting.
With so many great places to set a book, how do authors go about selecting that perfect location that is not merely a backdrop to the plot but actually becomes an integral character?
For me, I go about this two ways: I either know the story and choose the setting based on what’s going to happen in the story; or I know the location and want to set a good story there.
For example, in my first book, No Accounting for Murder, since I’m familiar with small East Coast towns (I lived in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia before emigrating to the US), and because the culture in a small East Coast town is completely different than a city, I knew I wanted to set a story in such a place. That culture not only defines what happens in the story, it also defines the characters.
However, when it came to the setting for the next book, There was a Crooked Man, this was born because my pastor was contemplating buying a property in New Mexico and turning it into a retreat center for pastors.
Having my main character, Carly Turnquist, start out in her town of Bear Cove, Maine, then travel to New Mexico meant I wanted the next book to be set back in Bear Cove, which is why Unbalanced was set around not only that small-town lifestyle and mindset, but also the larger regional city which tends to govern and sometimes bully the smaller towns.
And then we come to Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, which releases April 30th. In this adventure, Carly and husband Mike visit the area where my dad and step-mother were married. While I prefer setting my books in fictional towns, Raven Valley is fashioned after the town of Cave Creek, Arizona. Both my father and step-mother are now with the Lord, so when I read this story, I feel their presence and influence on my life, for which I am grateful.
Please leave a comment about connections you have with particular settings, whether in books you’ve read or books you’ve written.
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. Books 1 through 3 in the By the Numbers series are available, and Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, releases April 30th, with more planned. If you like accountants or are an accountant, check out Counting the Days: a 21-day devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk. Follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com and Donna at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com .