Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Sense of Place

One of the comments we see frequently in reference to the beautifully written and award-winning Louise Penny series is: “I want to live in Three Pines!” Or words to that effect.

And isn’t that exactly what we authors hope for when we create a fictional world? We hope readers love our worlds so much they want to take up residence! It’s true with all books but seems especially true with a series where the community created is revisited with each book.

Also this sense of place is a big part of who the characters are. Just like where we’re all from tells so much about us. How they feel about where they're from is important. And whether they've always lived there and continue to do so; or perhaps they couldn’t get away from their roots fast enough.

Some strong examples of series with a sense of place are:

  • Stephanie Plum and her irreverent Jersey burb surroundings,
  • Jessica Fletcher and her cozy Cabot Cove community,
  • Tess Monaghan’s rough and tumble Baltimore,
  • And, of course, the aforementioned, Three Pines with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and the cast of complicated characters who invite us into their village.
We chose Laguna Beach, California for the setting of our Pampered Pets mystery series for several reasons.

Our two amateur sleuths aren’t originally from California, they’re from Texas. Those Lone Star roots are a big part of Caro and Mel even though they both have pretty distinct reasons for leaving the great state of Texas. 

Laguna Beach is not only the perfect place for a pet-themed mystery with its pet-friendly merchants and off-the-chart number of pet owners (more registered dogs than there are kids), it’s also the perfect place for Caro and Mel.

The community is a seaside resort in southern Orange County located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. It has spectacular cliffs, glistening beaches, and breathtaking views of the Pacific, but it also has a uniquely artsy and almost European feel. The quaint boutiques, coffee bars, and sidewalk cafes provide a sense of place that brings together people who care about their community and each other. A community interested the greater good and setting things right when they go wrong.

In our fictional Laguna Beach there are some great restaurants and stores, just like in the real village. However, though we’ve used a real place we’ve populated the tree-lined village area, the Hills and the fabulous beachfront homes with characters from our imagination.

In our make-believe world you'll find: 

  • Judd Malone, no nonsense, stay-out-of-police-business homicide detective, 
  • Diana Knight, former screen star who still brings to mind the magic and glamour of a bygone era in Hollywood, 
  • Darby Beckett, wholesome and sometimes naive owner of Paw Prints pet photography, 
  • Ollie Hembry, former rocker turned pet rescuer, 
  • Kendall Reese, flamboyant dresser and pet groomer extraordinaire, 
  • Fan favorite, Betty Foxx, silk pajama-wearing senior with a strange sense of fashion and an eye for the gentleman, 
  • And, of course, assorted adorable cats and pups.

They all, like us love the unique and close-knit community. We think it's the perfect place for Caro and Mel. And for a bit of fictional murder... 

What specific things do you love about the settings in your favorite mysteries? Do you enjoy returning to those favorite places? 

Our most recent book, Fifty Shades of Greyhound, has been called "A real tail-wagger!" (That's from Buttercup aka Trixie the smart puppy who stars in the Paws & Claws series by NYTimes bestselling author Krista Davis). It follows Desperate Housedogs, Get Fluffy, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, and Yip/Tuck. Next up is, The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo

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1 comment:

  1. Hi there, Sparklers! I love to read about places I wish I were visiting. Most often in Europe. I don't "do" squalor very well so some gritty books do not pull me in.

    Love love love that graphic about being from Texas and doing NOT calm! I need that on a tee shirt, a mug, my forehead, for that matter!