I am so excited to hand my blog over to fellow Michigander and Young Adult author Julie Particka for the day. Julie is the author of Pretty Souls soon to be released by Decadent Publishing. She is the first guest blogger I have had the honor of hosting on Lexi’s Author Alcove. I hope she will come back soon to enlighten us with more of her writing expertise.
Today she is discussing how she chooses the settings for her novels. Settings in a book can be as just important as the characters. The setting of a novel can evoke the mood or theme of the story. Could Stephanie Meyers had set her Twilight series in New York or Dallas Texas? Sure she could but it would have changed the tone of the story from the dreary, dark, isolated, feel of Forks,Washington. The setting of the story is the landscape on which your characters play, learn and hopefully come alive. I hope you enjoy today’s post as much as I did.
Thank you Julie for visiting with us today!
When deciding where to set my Paranormal Response Team series, I briefly considered the Detroit area. I grew up in the surrounding suburbs, and it’s the place that will always scream “home” to me. However, so many paranormal’s take place in big cities I decided not to go there—it felt too obvious. I didn’t want to stray too far in the opposite direction either.
Instead, I decided to set it in the area where I currently live. This wasn’t to make it easier on me, but because I’m a strong believer in making everything “fit”. As I mapped out the over-arching plot of the series, I knew I needed someplace that was city-like—but not big—and close enough to the country that when I needed open spaces, they were readily available.
Plus, it gave me the opportunity to pull in little bits and pieces of what it’s like living here, from the local university (Western Michigan) to Kellogg Dairy Farm (in book 2) to Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery (don’t ask, but I think it’s going to play a part in book 4) to Lake Michigan. The Kalamazoo-Portage area isn’t big-city huge, but it is a decent size. Portage alone has between 100,000 to 150,000 people. So it’s definitely a city rather than a small town, small enough to maneuver through easily, but big enough to house more than a couple super naturals without notice.
One of my favorite aspects of using a real place that I have easy access to though is finding little local gems to weave into the story. For instance, Indian Fields cemetery figures prominently in Pretty Souls (www.decadentpublishing.com). Not only was I able to go visit (multiple times) to take pictures and get a feel for the place, I also made sure that things such as being able to see it from the fence along the airport worked. My favorite part, however, was learning a little bit of the history about it. It’s thought the cemetery was built over Native American burial grounds and walking through it, you get a real sense of age that goes beyond weathered tombstones from the 1800s (http://usgwarchives.net/mi/tsphoto/kalamazoo/indianfields.htm).
And of course there are the animals. The city of Portage has families of deer just ripe for the picking by a hungry teen werewolf. And the rabbits mentioned in the first chapter? They truly are that brave; my daughter almost caught one when she was three.
A lot of the things I chose to include about the area aren’t elaborate; they are simple little things that make Portage more than just a setting for my characters. They are the tiny pieces of reality that make this their home. I hope you’ll take the chance and pay them a visit.
Book Excerpt Pretty Souls by Julie Particka
“Elle hasn’t been afraid of the things that go bump in the night since she became a werewolf. She’d happily give up her inner monster to get her family back though. Hell, she’d give up the beast for nothing. Of course her foster sister doesn’t get it. After all, she doesn’t battle with her own darker half, but vampire blood can do that to a person.
Their nightly patrols have become more habit than necessity—until a demon spawn comes to town, ripping souls from strangers, enemies, and friends alike. When it threatens her foster mom, Elle’s peaceful life is shattered, but she’s not going to give up without a fight. Fighting the beast for control at the same time is more than she can handle though. Armed with more attitude than experience, Elle and her sister have to track down the demon spawn before it collects enough souls to fulfill its birthright and open a doorway to hell.
For the first time in years, Elle is scared. She’s willing to lose herself in the beast if that’s what it takes, but saving the world could cost her soul.”
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