Showing posts from November, 2011

Alice Duncan Discusses the Settings for her Novels

Award-winning author Alice Duncan lives with a herd of wild dachshunds (enriched from time to time with fosterees from New Mexico Dachshund Rescue) in Roswell, New Mexico. She's not a UFO enthusiast; she's in Roswell because her mother's family settled there fifty years before the aliens crashed. Alice no longer longs to return to California, although she still misses the food, not to mention her children, one of whom is there and the other of whom is in Nevada. Alice would love to hear from you at And be sure to visit her Web site at

Settings are very important to me as an author, perhaps because I write historical novels. I want my readers to immerse themselves in the period during which my stories takes place, and they can’t do that if I don’t make the settings clear from the get-go. At the moment, I have three historical cozy series going. One (my “Spirits” series) is set in Pasadena, California (my home town) in the ea…

W. S. Gager's Take on Setting as Character

Can setting really be a character in a book? A year ago I would have said no, at least not in my books. I’m a minimalist when it comes to setting. You won’t find long paragraphs of description or colorful prose. I try to layer elements of setting among dialogue and action scenes. My goal, if successful, is to have a line or two or description and then the reader’s imagination fills in the blanks. That’s what I want to happen because when I’m reading I skip long passages of description. With such small bits and pieces of places, how could a setting take on a bigger role?
You create a town that is out to get you main character. In doing so, I’ve had to revise my view on setting a bit. In A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES the town itself rose from the pages and seemed to be attacking my sleuth, Mitch Malone, at every turn.
To understand this, I need to give you a bit of the plot. Mitch is forced to return to his hometown to teach a seminar then stumbles into the local watering hole and…

M.M. GornellTalks About Setting as it Applies to Her

Thank you, Marilyn, for hosting me on your blog! As you know, I enjoy reading your books very much—and your writing and promotions activities have been guiding lights for me. So, I’m especially pleased to be here and participating in this Mystery We Write Blog Tour.
I’m also pleased to have the opportunity to talk about setting. As a reader, a key ingredient for my enjoyment of a book (along with characters) is being “taken away.” For example, my favorite author is P.D. James. I just love being transported to her wonderful locations in Britain. And seeing London through the eyes of her protagonist Adam Dagleish (and others) are the most enjoyable reading experiences I’ve ever had.
In my own writing, the first excitement and kernel of an idea for each of my books has come from a location that has reached out, grabbed me, and wouldn’t let go. I know that sounds “over the top,” and it’s not the whole story, but so far, my novels have started because a location said, “Me! Me! Write about me…

Setting the Scene by Timothy Hallinan

Marilyn asked that we write about setting, which is lucky for me because it's something I think about incessantly.I want to open with a generalization: The same setting is different to different people.That's one of the most wonderful things about it
Specifically, I'm fortunate in that I write two series, both of which have rich settings.
The Poke Rafferty mysteries, the most recent of which is THE QUEEN OF PATPONG, center on an American “rough travel” writer who's settled in Bangkok and is trying to build a family with the former bar worker he married and the little girl he and his wife have adopted off the streets.Bangkok is one of God's gifts to a writer looking for a setting, one of the most energetic, contradictory, exotic (and sometimes surprisingly ordinary) places on earth.
My other hero, Junior Bender, on the other hand, lives in the San Fernando Valley, which, at first sight doesn't seem as promising as Bangkok; I doubt that few people would call the …

Jackie King Discusses Creating Setting for the Grace Cassidy Mysteries

Good Morning Marilyn. I’m delighted to once again visit your blog and discuss fictional settings. Next to writing, my favorite thing is talking about writing, so thanks for inviting me.
The setting for my cozy mystery THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE is a bed and breakfast on the northern California coast. Oddly enough, the setting picked me. While vacationing in the area I stopped at a picturesque B and B in a neighborhood filled with Victorian mansions. The air was crisp and called for a walk, but I got carried away and wandered too far. After a couple of hours trekking to the beach and back, I sprawled on my bed, completely pooped. Suddenly, as though I’d turned on the TV, the opening scene for THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE flashed through my mind. What I imagined seemed so vivid that I was compelled to create a character named Grace Cassidy and to write her story.
The book opens just as Grace’s life has self-destructed. While it was horrible to find a naked dead guy in her bed, her greatest fear w…

Settings by Jean Henry Mead

Setting is always an important element of mystery writing. Marlys Millhiser chooses settings before her characters. She once said that she spotted an old Victorian house and thought it needed a ghost, so she wrote a novel about it. Phyllis Whitney also planned her novels around a setting. She wanted a place that gave her fresh and interesting material, although it may have been in her own backyard. For her first mystery novel, Red is for Murder, she went to Chicago’s loop to get behind-the-scenes background on the window decorating business. But, because the book only sold 3,000 copies, she returned to writing for children. Years later, the book was reprinted in a number of paperback editions as The Red Carnelian. For my own first mystery novel, A Village Shattered, I decided to set my story of a serial killer’s revenge in a San Joaquin Valley retirement village where retirees were dropping dead in the Tule fog. I lived in the valley for more than a dozen years and thought it was a gr…

Prizes for the Mystery Writers Blog Tour

The 2 week long Mystery Writers Blog Tour is offering all sorts of prizes to people who follow along on the tour: ANNEALBERT  is giving away 3 e-copies of Frank, Incense and Muriel BETHANDERSON--  1 copy each of Night Sounds, Murder Online, and Raven Talks Back, by drawing at the end of the tour from people who comment at my blogsite over the two weeks.  Winners can choose either e-book or print. RONBENREY- We'll give away paper copies of Dead as a Scone and The Final Crumpet. PATBROWNING -- 1 surprise print copy at end of tour. JOHNM. DANIEL - 1 print copy of Behind the Redwood Door, and 1 print copy of Generous Helpings JEANHENRY MEAD- 1 print copy of A Village Shattered, Diary of Murde, and Murder on the Interstate ALICEDUNCAN - I’ll give away a copy of any of my books, either hardback or Kindle. What the heck. Whatever the winner wants. WENDY GAGER - I will give away a copy of A Case of Hometown Blues from all the comments on my blog from guest interviews. M.M.GORNELL -  3 copies…

Wishing Everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Tomorrow

Tomorrow I'll be busy getting my turkey in the oven and doing all the many things it takes to get a big Thanksgiving dinner on the table for my family and anyone else they might bring with them. Do check my blog tomorrow because I have more about the big Mystery We Write book tour that begins on November 25th. Fourteen mystery writers are going to be on one of the fourteen's blog for each of the next 14 days.

Lots of prizes are to be had and that's what I tell about tomorrow. So be sure to check and see what's being offered. It's really easy too, just hit each person's blog everyday and leave a comment. You'll find out lots of interesting tidbits about these authors and their books.

I'm wishing each and everyone of you a wonderful holiday. Enjoy your family and think about everything you'r thankful for.

I'm thankful for living in a country like ours (the U.S. for those who are elsewhere), for having such a great family, for my marriage to a wond…

Brookins Reviews Damage Control by Denise Hamilton

Damage Control by Denise Hamilton ISBN: 978-0-7432-9674-8 a 2011 hardcover release from Scribner. 372 pages.
More than just romance can often flower under the hot desert moon. In southern California, a lot more. In the artificially irrigated hothouse of perfectly sculpted bodies, overabundance of wealth, aggressive power and overweening ambition are a dangerous combination that leads, almost inevitably, to corruption. And it is corruption that’s at the heart of this complex, lyrically written tale, along with a strong dose of murder and mystery.
Maggie Silver grew up on the far side of the tracks. Now in adulthood with a mortgage, a failed marriage, and an ill mother, she’s scrambling for a place, if not in the sun, as near as she can get without singeing her fingers. Her values are aspiring middle class. She’d like to be one of the beautiful people, and for a while in a private school with a rich girl friend named Anabelle Paxton, the giddy, youthful exuberance of unsuperv…

Countdown to Thanksgiving

I've been thinking about past Thanksgivings. We often traveled from Oxnard to Los Angeles to my parents for Thankgiving. In those days except for helping set the table, and putting the food on, helping with dishes afterwards, I really didn't have any responsibilities at all.

When more kids arrived in my family, I had some Thanksgivings at my house with all the family coming to Oxnard. I did most of the cooking, but my Auntie, who is now 100, brought wonderful green beans with mushrooms and candied sweet potatoes. Later, when we moved to Springville, where we are now, I continued to be the cook for Thanksgiving.

When my sis moved to Las Vegas and took mother with her, things changed. I was still the cook, but only my family came for dinner. (Plenty of people, I can assure you.)

The last few years I've cooked one Thanksgiving and then hubby and I traveled to my daughter Lori's for the other. (Great, because she's a wonderful cook and I didn't have to do anything …