There are several factors that helped me choose that location for the story. Being plot-oriented, I usually work through the story from start to finish, then figure out where the best place is going to be for that story to work.
Sometimes, however, as happened with AGAINST THE STORM, the character determined the setting.
For instance, in the first book in the series, AGAINST THE WIND, Jackson Raines, the hero, lives in the fictional rural town of Wind Canyon, Wyoming. AGAINST THE FIRE, his brother Gabe’s story, was set in Dallas, and AGAINST THE LAW was set in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Trace Rawlins, the hero of AGAINST THE STORM, first appears in AGAINST THE LAW. He’s a former Army Ranger buddy of Dev Raines. Dev solicits Trace’s help to rescue a little girl who’s been kidnapped and taken to Mexico. The moment Trace entered the story, I knew I had to write about this cowboy hunk and find the right woman for him.
Which meant, since Trace lived in Houston in LAW, Houston had to be the setting for the book.
Fortunately, a couple of years back, my husband and I lived in Houstonfor several months. I grew to know my way around town, to know the restaurants and the shopping, to become familiar with the atmosphere of the city, which is amazingly small-town, considering the population.
Atlas Security, Trace’s company, became the focal point of the story and will be the setting for other AGAINST books yet to come.
But I digress.
The point is, the setting wasn’t picked by me, it was picked by a character who lived there.
Since my books have always spanned a number of different locals, it helps that my husband and I travel quite a lot. We know our way around the country and have lived and worked in a number of different places.
Even if you haven’t been to a place for ten or twenty years, once you begin the research, it all comes flooding back. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the sorts of people you encounter. To help, I use Google Maps extensively. They have street maps and satellite photos of different areas, and even cameras in various locations so you can actually see what it looks like! Pretty amazing stuff.
Actually going there, of course, is the best way to chose a location. And I truly believe there are places you really can’t write about without seeing them. For me that was Europe. Until I actually traveled overseas, I couldn’t image cities and towns that went that far back in time. Paris, London, Amsterdam and the rural communities in European countries are the sorts of places you really need to visit in order to understand the way people in those areas live.
If you can’t go, try to choose a location that fits your story and that you can relate to. Wyomingwas easy for me since I live inMontana. Better yet, I’ve been there a number of times. But even if I hadn’t been there before, it wouldn’t have been a big reach for me.
So pick a place that fits your character, your story, and is a place you know or can relate to. Aside from that, have fun with it! If you do, it will show in your writing and your readers will have fun, too.
Hope you enjoy my Houston cowboy, Trace Rawlins, in AGAINST THE STORM, and watch for other books in the series.
I will be giving away 2 prizes! A copy of AGAINST THE STORM and a copy of the AGAINST THE WIND (Audiobook). Be sure to comment on my blog for a chance to WIN!
Very best and happy reading, kat