Monday, 6 February 2017

Settings for stories

Settings for stories

I deliberately avoid naming cities or towns where most of my stories take place for several reasons.

  1. American readers can imagine they take place in their country, UK readers can imagine it takes place in the UK and any other readers around the world in their own locations as they wish.
  2. It saves having to know a place well enough to describe streets, scenery, landmarks, etc.
  3.  It gives me the opportunity to be creative and come up with names for streets, etc, myself. I often name them after people I know or where friends currently live, eg, ‘Pickford Park’ in Wife for Three, ‘Sellers Street’ in Dark Captive, ‘Old Deer Park Road’ in Collared by Wolves.

However, I do have a few stories that are set in specific locations.

a. The Men for Hire anthologies that I coordinated had the head office of the Men for Hire agency in London. This made it slightly difficult for American writers who wanted to submit a story who were not familiar with London or English customs/countryside. I had to ask one author to change her story which included a raccoon as we don’t have them in the UK.

b. BDSM Weekend is set in a fictional mansion in the English countryside. So I scoured maps of England looking for a large area of countryside where there were no current mansions that I could set mine. I settled on Lincolnshire and used the countryside that currently was there to form the basis of my map of the ‘estate’ which includes woods, stables, hill with tower, dovecot, maze etc.

c. The books in the Duoterra series are set on the colony planet of Duoterra.

d. Similarly, with my other sci-fi stories they all in space or on alien planets. I haven’t used currently named planets! Much more fun to invent your own.

e. The Last Werewolf starts off in York, England, and the heroine then goes off the Finland. Thankfully, I relied on my co-writer, the lovely Susan Laine, who is Finnish, to supply details of Finland. We decided to set the bulk of the story in the wonderfully named ‘Hell’s Lake’ which is real!

The disadvantages of not setting it in a particular country is that I have to use American English for the American market, eg, in Dark Captive I had referred to a car park – which got changed to ‘parking lot’ despite the fact that I hadn’t specified which country it was taking place in. In another story (one of the Friends & Acquaintances series I seem to recall) the characters had a takeaway….. which was changed to take out for the American market!

I did argue in The Last Werewolf when the editor wanted me to change ‘hot flush’ to ‘hot flash’ because the heroine is English and we say ‘hot flush’. The editor argued that American readers would think it was a typo. *sigh*

So, I am now after a name for a gay BDSM club in a city in an unnamed country. Any thoughts?